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FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 
JOHN KENLON 



FIRES AND 
FIRE-FIGHTERS 



A History of Modern Fire-Fighting 

with a Review of Its Development 

from Earliest Times 



BY 

JOHN KENLON 



CHIEF OF NEW Yo FIRE DEPARTMENT 



WITH ILLUSTRATIONS FROM 
PHOTOGRAPHS 



NEW YORK 
GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY 






Copyright, 1913, 
By GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY 



DEDICATED 

TO 

MY COMRADES 

THE MEMBERS OF 

THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION 
OF FIRE ENGINEERS 



270947 



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 



The Author desires to make special and grateful 
acknowledgment , 

To Mr. Alan Lethbridge for his gracious and 'valuable 
assistance in the preparation of this book. 

To Mr. Wilbur E. Mallalieu, General Agent of The 
National Board of Fire Underwriters for help in the 
preparation of statistical tables and for the use of 
some special photographs. 

To Mr. Edwin O. Sachs and his co-directors in the 
British Fire Prevention Association for permission 
to use material and pictures from the reports of their 
Association. 

To Mr. Frederick Smythe for the use of photographs. 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

I INTRODUCTION I 

II FIRE FIGHTING IN ANCIENT ROME ... 7 

III THE EVOLUTION OF FIRE FIGHTING ... 12 

IV "PAST AND PRESENT." REMINISCENCES OF A 

FIREFIGHTER . . . . . . 22 

V THE FRENCH FIRE FIGHTER ..-. . . . 45 

VI FIRE FIGHTING IN GERMANY .... 64 

Vn FIRE DEPARTMENTS OF MIDDLE EUROPE (AUS- 

TRO-HUNGARY, SWITZERLAND AND ITALY) . 79 

VIII THE TRADE OF ARSON ...... 94 

IX GASOLINE AND GARAGES . . . . . ICK) 

X GREAT FIRES AND HOW THEY WERE FOUGHT 

(i.) . ......'. ...... 118 

XI GREAT FIRES AND HOW THEY WERE FOUGHT 

(II.) . . . 148 

XII THE HOTEL PERIL . . . . . . I7O 

XIII THEATRES AND FIRE PANICS . . . .185 

XIV THE HIGH PRESSURE SYSTEM . . . .197 

XV FIRE CONTROL IN SCHOOLS, FACTORIES AND 

HOSPITALS . . . . . . . 208 

XVI FIRE FIGHTING IN THE UNITED KINGDOM . 225 

XVII THE NEW YORK FIRE DEPARTMENT . . . 247 

XVIII SEA PORT PROBLEMS . . . > . . 263 

XIX FIRE STRATEGY IN THE HOMES OF THE PEOPLE 278 

vii 



viii CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

xx "QUICK BURNERS" . . . . .^ . 291 

XXI THE PROBLEM OF THE SKYSCRAPER . . . 306 

XXII APPARATUS FOR FIRE FIGHTING . . . -317 

XXIII TWO PLATOON SYSTEM ..... 333 

XXIV UNDERWRITERS AND SALVAGE CORPS .. . 337 
XXV CONCLUSION 347 

APPENDIX 357 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

Chief Kenlon Frontispiece 

Doorway in Atrium of the old Roman Watch Station 6 

The "Roman" Ladder. Details of Construction and Method of 

Raising 10 

The "Modem Risks" Cart of the Technical Company of Lucerne . 14 

Cantiniere of a French Rural Fire Brigade 18 

"First Aid" Hydrant and Hook and Ladder Cart of Lucerne ... 24 

Struggling through the Drifts of the Great Blizzard 30 

The Gennevilliers Gas Works Fire Brigade. Life-saving Truck . . 38 

French Steam-Motor Engine 52 

French "Turn Out." Petrol Motor Pump and Petrol Motor Lorries 56 

Type of Modern Apparatus Used in European Cities 66 

Hamburg. Electromobile Tractor Hauling Steam Fire Engine . . 72 

Vienna Professional Fire Brigade. Pneumatic 8o-foot Long Ladder . 80 

Buda-Pesth Volunteer Fire Brigade. Benzine Motor Fire Engine . 84 

Incipient "Fire-bugs" 96 

Before the Alarm is Turned In no 

Smoky Fire, New York 114 

Baltimore Fire. Skeleton Steel Construction 132 

Equitable Fire, Corner of Broadway and Cedar Street 138 

Equitable Building, Corner of Broadway 142 

Engine at Equitable Fire 146 

Progress of the San Francisco Fire: First Period 152 

Dangerous Work 166 

Quick Burner 178 

Modern Theatre. New York City 186 

Capacity Test. High Pressure System, New York 198 

Switch-board at High Pressure Pumping Station 206 

Water Tower at Work 214 

Electrically Operated Hook and Ladder Truck 248 

Tractor-drawn Steam Fire Engine 252 

Combination Chemical and Hose Wagon 256 

Assignment Card 260 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

Oil Fire 264 

Dock Fire, Jersey City . 268 

James Duane in Action 276 

Responding to an Alarm 280 

Leaving for a Fire 288 

Old Style. Poor Construction 292 

Smoky Fire. Toronto, Canada 300 

Diagrams Showing Piping of Tall Buildings 310 

Typical New York Horse-drawn Fire Engine 318 

Water Tower Frozen In 322 

Search Lights 326 

Diagram of Effective Vertical Reach of Fire Streams 330 

Resuscitating Firemen Overcome by Smoke 336 

Fire-fighting Practice 342 

New York Fire Station 350 

Testing Kit 360 



FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 



CHAPTER I 

INTRODUCTION 

A COMMON axiom amongst fire-fighters is that no defin- 
ite rules can be formulated, which wholly embody the 
principles of their craft. It is argued that since no two fires 
are absolutely alike in all respects, that which would be 
efficacious in one instance would be absolutely futile in 
another. This proposition is fallacious. Physicians might 
just as well advance the theory that since no two indi- 
viduals are constitutionally alike, it is useless to apply the 
same treatment for some well known disease, even with 
those modifications necessitated by physical differences. Of 
tourse this is a "reductio ad absurdum," since doctors study 
their patients scientifically, following general principles re- 
sulting from experience, only varied in minor details 
according to the exigencies of the case. Similarly, notwith- 
standing differences in construction and occupancy, it is per- 
fectly feasible to fight fires with intelligence born of 
systematic acquaintance with certain fixed data, and it may 
be added, with some degree of scientific exactitude. As 
there are prime factors in the treatment of illness, particu- 
larly if it be contagious, such as the removal of the patient 
to a place where it is almost impossible for the disease to be 
communicated to others, so it is with fire. The first general 
principles to be observed include naturally the confinement 
of an outbreak to as narrow a space as possible, the safety 
of contiguous property, the prevention of loss of life and 
the centralization of the outbreak as a whole. To this 
must be added the concentration upon the point of greatest 
danger of all the forces at the command of the officer in 

i 



2 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

charge. In the following chapters an attempt has been 
made to deal with this subject in such a manner that while 
the professional fire-fighter shall find much information 
which will be of value to him, the lay reader shall likewise 
discover material for thought, as well as food for the 
imagination. 

It has been estimated that no less than 64 per cent, of all 
fires occur in the homes of the people, and though these may 
not be attended by the tremendous financial losses conse- 
quent upon outbreak in warehouses, office buildings and the 
like, they strike fear into the heart in a greater degree, for 
it is the human hazard which is at stake. 

Few realize, also, the unremitting labor, the devotion 
to service, the daily acts of heroism, the mental and phy- 
sical strain, and the inadequate acknowledgment in many 
instances by the public of the achievements of the genus 
fireman. Not that he wishes to be advertised, but since 
the soldier, the sailor and even the policeman loom large 
in general estimation, it seems only just that something 
should be written illustrative of the responsibilities en- 
trusted to his charge. To how many people does it ever 
occur that negligence on the part of a policeman may re- 
sult in the loss by robbery of a few thousand dollars or 
the sacrifice of at most two or three human lives by mur- 
der; while the same fault on the part of a fireman may 
entail some hideous disaster involving scores of lives or the 
loss of millions of dollars. Further, is it realized, that 
whereas the soldier or sailor risks his life for his country 
at rare intervals, the fireman takes the same chances regu- 
larly in the course of his daily avocation. 

Thus it will be seen that no occupation or career should 
make greater appeal to the sympathy and interest of the 
public than that of the firemen who constitute a force which 
stands for much and without which the insecurity of life 
would be increased tenfold. 

In addition, the advance of science and the evolution of 
the simple building into the highly complex structure 
necessitated by modern requirements have in their turn 



INTRODUCTION 3 

caused a corresponding advance in the theory and practice 
of fire-fighting. Questions of such import as the allevia- 
tion of congestion in crowded districts, the provision of 
suitable accommodation for domestic and business prem- 
ises and the supply of the minimum of light and air com- 
patible with modern ideas of hygiene, have led architects 
to find their only solution in the piling up of story upon 
story till, with the Woolworth building in New York, 
realms of space hitherto unpierced except by the Eiffel 
Tower have surrendered to their all-conquering demand. 
And finality has by no means been reached in this direction. 
No wonder, therefore, that those responsible for fire control 
have paused, perplexed momentarily at the problems con- 
fronting them. Generally speaking, except under the rar- 
est of circumstances, it is only possible to fight fires from 
the street up to a height of seven stories, after that reliance 
must be placed upon the fire appliances within the building 
coupled with the tactical skill of the firemen in using the 
same. This is one of the instances in which the scientific 
training of a fire department is manifested. The isolation 
of elevator shafts, the prevention of flames being drawn 
from floor to floor through windows and the avoidance of 
that most dangerous enemy, back draught, constitute fea- 
tures of enormous significance. 

Similarly fire apparatus has grown in complexity and its 
handling requires a corresponding degree of judgment and 
skill. The old days of the manual have gone forever, and 
though for many centuries little advance was made in the 
mechanical aspect of fire-fighting equipment, the last fifty 
years have witnessed a complete revolution in the means 
and methods employed. As the hand drawn "manual" gave 
way to the horse drawn steam engine, so has the latter in 
its turn been succeeded by the automobile gasoline pump. 
Likewise the Roman ladder, which for years marked the 
limit of human ingenuity as applied to means of entry to 
and rescue from burning buildings, has been superseded to 
a large extent by mechanically operated extension ladders 
of great length. Such apparatus as water towers, search- 



4 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

lights, high pressure pumps, dangerous structure traps and 
so forth, presuppose a high degree of scientific skill and 
technical knowledge on the part of the fire-fighter, who may 
thus legitimately claim to belong to a well defined profes- 
sion. Since appliances vary in different parts of the world, 
according to local needs, the author has included in this 
volume some slight account of the equipment and methods 
of foreign departments, which would prove serviceable for 
purposes of comparison. Equally, full descriptions will be 
found of the most modern mechanical devices in use, which 
it is hoped will be of real service to those who are interested 
in the subject from a practical standpoint. There is no 
doubt that at last the world has awakened to the economic 
importance of fire control. Insurance risks have become 
so stupendous that those involved financially in the same, 
demand the acme of scientific foresight and the maximum 
of human enterprise towards the protection of their capi- 
tal. It is true that in some quarters there is a regrettable 
tendency to gamble on fire risks, which brings in its train 
sporadic outbursts of incendiarism, whereby, in many cases, 
human lives are jeopardized. But with the exposure of 
such dubious modes of increasing business and with a 
realization of their results, it seems beyond question that 
saner and wiser counsels will prevail. 

These are days of keen competition as applied to the 
search after a bare livelihood and the pay and prospects 
of the fireman are such that they well merit the attention 
of young men with ambition and brains. The life is a 
healthy, if strenuous one, while the position of Fire Chief, 
at any rate in America, is within reach of all comers and 
the goal one to be envied. Should this work prove to 
be the means of encouraging the right type of man to 
come forward, then the writer will be happy in the knowl- 
edge that his labour has not been in vain. 

It will be noticed that a chapter has been devoted to a 
consideration of how best to deal with fires in private 
houses and the most prolific causes of these outbreaks. 
Carelessness can never be wholly eradicated from human 



INTRODUCTION 5 

nature, but this same failing is one of the prime factors 
constituting the fire risk of the citizen. Not long since a 
guest in a hotel thoughtlessly threw away a lighted cigar- 
ette end into a waste paper basket. In due course the 
contents burst into flames, set alight the curtains, and 
eventually involved the whole floor of the building, caus- 
ing incidentally the loss of three lives. That same story 
is repeated week by week and day by day the world over, 
and yet the lesson never seems to be appreciated. Hence, 
the next best thing to prevention being cure, an attempt 
has been made in the chapter indicated to formulate certain 
simple rules which if followed will go a long way towards 
controlling the blaze until such time as professional help 
shall arrive. Further, it is not generally realized by what 
means fires are sometimes started. For instance, who 
would ever suspect that the common or garden rat possessed 
all the qualities of an incipient fire-bug. In the city of 
Washington, during one year, 36 outbreaks arose through 
rats nibbling at the ends of matches; proof sufficient that 
where fire is concerned not even the most remote possibili- 
ties can be overlooked with impunity. 

The prevention of panic in schools, shops, factories and 
the like is, of course, one of the most important features 
of the ethics of fire-fighting. It is no exaggeration to say 
that as many people are killed by suffocation, by being 
trampled to death and by unnecessarily jumping into the 
streets, as are actually sacrificed to the flames themselves. 
Human nature is easily susceptible of control, provided 
there is at hand a sufficiently strong influence to inspire 
confidence and restore nerve. This influence must be a 
combination of self possession and training; with this 
upon which to draw, panic can often be averted. Thus in 
schools, teachers should be trained in the marshalling 
of their charges in the same way that employees in shops 
should be taught to look after the safety of purchasers. 
The timely playing of the orchestra in a theatre has often 
prevented disaster, and such aids are worthy of more 
than passing attention. All this has received careful study 



6 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

in the chapter devoted to the subject and the writer con- 
fidently anticipates that if his advice is followed, advice 
framed upon forty years of actual experience, the casual- 
ties due to fire panics will be appreciably minimized. 

These are some of the issues connected with fire-fighting, 
which have been dealt with in as exhaustive and interesting 
a manner as possible in this volume. The particular inten- 
tion of the writer has been to avoid lengthy and tedious 
explanations, which would be beyond the comprehension 
of the untrained layman. To that end an appendix has 
been supplied replete with all the tables necessary to the 
scientific fireman. For the rest, the problems of fire control 
have emerged from the chrysalis stage of experiment into 
the fully developed formulae of an exact science, and the 
time has arrived when no one can afford to be ignorant 
of the first principles governing the same. A great quan- 
tity of useless information is assimilated by the public; 
is it too much to hope that opportunity may be found for 
the perusal of a subject so closely connected with the 
welfare, safety and homes of the people. 




DOORWAY IN ATRIUM OF THE 
OLD ROMAN WATCH STATION. 



CHAPTER II 

FIRE-FIGHTING IN ANCIENT ROME 

FROM the earliest times the Romans well recognized the 
ever present menace of fire and as a matter of precaution 
a law was passed compelling the erection of separate houses, 
each standing in its own plot of ground. But as the size 
of the city increased this regulation became more honored 
in the breach than in the observance, with the result that 
serious conflagrations occurred frequently and thus the sub- 
ject of effective "fire-fighting" was forced upon the atten- 
tion of the authorities. Indeed, there is nothing surprising 
in Rome having been constantly visited by such calamities. 
The houses in the poorer and more populous quarter of 
the city were usually constructed of wood, sanctuary fires 
were continually kept burning in every household in honour 
of the domestic deities and it does not require the imagina- 
tion of a Jules Verne to conjure up visions of the dire 
results caused by an act of carelessness or a moment's 
thoughtlessness. The streets being narrow and tortuous, the 
smallest blaze would quickly develop into a veritable con- 
flagration, the magnitude of which would depend solely 
upon the natural barriers which might stand in the way 
of the flames. In addition, intermingled with the dwelling 
houses, were vast warehouses and granaries which offered 
an easy prey to fire. 

Furthermore, human nature in Ancient Rome was much 
the same as human nature in modern New York and 
enterprising miscreants were not lacking, who realized 
that by starting a fire and availing themselves of the en- 
suing confusion, they could enrich themselves comfortably 

7 



8 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

and quickly at the expense of their neighbours. They were, 
in fact, the germ from which developed the individual who 
is a terror to his neighbours, a pest in the community and 
a source of constant activity to fire departments, by whom 
he is dubbed expressively a "firebug." 

Hence it will be seen that even at this early date the 
menace of fire in its primary conditions did not differ 
materially from the modern fire risks in many towns. Under 
the Republic one of the duties of the Roman "Triumvirs" 
was to protect the city from fire, and later they came 
to be called "Nocturns," because of their mounting guard 
during the night. In this task they were assisted by the 
"yEdiles," to whom the care of the buildings in the town 
was entrusted. This constituted the "official" fighting 
force, but there were in addition private organizations con- 
sisting of slaves, whose services were given gratuitously ac- 
cording to the wishes of their masters, who doubtless in 
this manner hoped to rise in public esteem. This forms 
an interesting analogy to the methods employed by many 
so-called philanthropists of the present day who are usually 
ready to support any public work upon which a liberal 
amount of limelight is turned. 

Little could be expected from a department composed 
of such heterogeneous elements, ignorant alike of dis- 
cipline and organization. The Emperor, Caesar Augus- 
tus, realizing the importance of effective fire protection in 
his capital, introduced the first regularly constituted "fire 
department" known to history. It consisted of seven 
cohorts, each numbering roughly one thousand men. Their 
duties consisted not only in the actual work of fighting the 
flames, but also in policing the streets contiguous to an 
outbreak and in preventing robbery and looting. The fire 
chief was known as the "Prsefectus Vigilum." He was as- 
sisted by three lieutenants, "Subpraef ecti" ; seven "Tri- 
bunes," forty-nine "Centurions," and a great number of 
"Principales." This last title was given to every one in 
the Roman army, who had any species of fixed office, to 
all those in fact who occupied the intermediate ranks be- 



FIRE-FIGHTING IN ANCIENT ROME 9 

tween commissioned officers and common soldiers. Prom- 
inent amongst the "Principales" were the "Librarii," who 
kept the accounts and paid the wages, the "Bucinatores" or 
buglers, the ensign bearers, one for each cohort, and the 
"Aquarii," the "Siphonarii," the "Sebaciarii," and the 
"Mitularii," to whose respective duties attention will be 
paid when considering the manner in which fires were 
fought. There were also four doctors attached to each 
cohort and last, but by no means least, an official known 
as the "Questionarius," whose interesting duty it was to 
apply torture in cases of suspected incendiarism. 

The seven cohorts were quartered in as many barracks, 
designated "castra," which were so located that each could 
effectively protect two of the fourteen regions into which 
the city was divided. As to the construction of these 
barracks, there is fortunately preserved an important rec- 
ord in the shape of a fragment of an ancient plan of Im- 
perial Rome, showing the details of the barrack allocated 
to the first cohort. This was situated near St. Grisogone 
in Trastavere and the building had evidently been specially 
designed for the use of firemen on duty. The atrium or 
entrance hall was tiled with black and white mosaic ar- 
ranged to represent various marine subjects, while in the 
middle stood a handsome hexagonal fountain. Flanking 
the walls on either side were benches for the men, while 
numerous inscriptions and rough drawings evidenced the 
fact that in their moments of leisure the Roman fire- 
men found amusement in caricaturing their fellows. Oppo- 
site to the main entrance of the atrium was a door leading 
to a spacious bathroom, giving the impression that the 
wants of the men, even in those days, were the subject 
of as careful consideration as they are today. 

It must have been about this time that the intellectual 
activity of the Romans commenced to assert itself and not 
only the great "Thermes" or baths were open the whole 
night long, but also such halls of assembly as the "Pales- 
trse," the "Scholae," the "Bibliothecse" and the "Pinocotecae" 
would be crowded at all hours with throngs of eager dis- 



io FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

putants. In fact, nocturnal life in Rome had come to be 
an integral part of the city's existence. 

This in its turn necessitated some form of municipal il- 
lumination and this was likewise entrusted to the fire de- 
partment, a special branch being formed under the name 
of the "Sebaciarii," after their first captain, one Sebacia- 
rius. Special men were drawn monthly from each cohort 
for this service, their duties including the supervision of 
the monster torches kept continually burning outside fire 
stations as a signal to all and sundry whither to repair 
in the event of wishing to give an alarm of fire. Some 
few years ago a bronze torch was excavated not far from 
St. Grisogone, which experts presume to have been a 
street lamp of this period. 

Fortunately Rome was well supplied with water, which 
was carried in "Hamae" or light vases by squads of firemen 
to the scene of an outbreak, where it was placed at the dis- 
posal of those in charge of the "Siphones" or hand pumps. 
From specimens, which have been frequently found in 
excavations, these latter must have been very similar to the 
old-fashioned syringes used by gardeners, only, of course, 
constructed of wood. 

The "Aquarii," or as their name designates, the water 
carriers, did not confine their attentions to that duty alone. 
They were also expected to be conversant with all possible 
sources of water supply in the two regions of the town for 
which their cohort was responsible. 

On the whole, the firemen were well equipped with ap- 
paratus including hammers, saws, mattocks, and other such 
implements, besides leather hose in suitable lengths. Large 
pillows, specially designed to break the fall of anyone 
jumping from a height were in general use, and incidentally 
were not much improved upon till the beginning of the last 
century. In addition the Roman ladder, the forerunner 
of the modern escape, had already been introduced and 
a detailed description of the same may be found in the 
chapter dealing with appliances. 

Given these data it is not difficult to frame in the mind's 



FIRE-FIGHTING IN ANCIENT ROME n 

eye a picture of a fire in ancient Rome. There is sufi\- 
cient evidence that the Romans were distinctly human and 
no doubt an outbreak of fire provided a pleasant interlude 
when the discourse of a popular orator started to become 
tedious. Hence it can be imagined, even as today, that 
the "Nocturns," or fire police, were fully occupied in 
preventing the curious from hindering the firemen. The 
"Praefectus Vigilum," or Fire Chief, would arrive to take 
charge of operations and woe betide any one in the vicinity, 
were there any suspicion of incendiarism. The services of 
the "Questionarius," or Fire Marshal, would be hastily 
requisitioned and, judging by the comprehensive fashion 
in which the law was administered at that period, it may 
be hazarded that while no doubt the guilty eventually re- 
ceived their well merited reward, it is not unlikely that 
meantime a proportion of the innocent had also tasted 
of that official's ingenious skill. This assuredly must have 
had a discouraging effect upon the enthusiasm of the 
genus "firebug," for inasmuch as example is generally 
a deterrent, it mattered little whether the punishment 
reached the real offender, so long as the "modus operandi" 
of the punishment and the reason thereof were known and 
appreciated. 

But to return to a more serious vein of thought, it is 
a fact that modern methods of procedure against incen- 
diaries lack the finality and thoroughness of those early 
days. In a later portion of this volume the subject is 
treated at length and hence it is unnecessary further to 
pursue the question. Suffice it to say, that, broadly speak- 
ing, the Fire Department of Ancient Rome was as well 
organized and equipped for its duties as many a municipal 
force as late as the eighteenth century and it might not 
be exaggeration to hazard, even composed of as competent 
fire-fighters as some corps of today. 



CHAPTER III 

THE EVOLUTION OF FIRE-FIGHTING 

IT may be safely asserted that the fire department of 
ancient Rome was better organized and better equipped than 
the rough and ready volunteer services maintained by the 
great European cities during the middle ages. There had, 
in fact, been a period of retrogression, which was coincident 
with the dismemberment of the Roman Empire, when all 
art and science languished in the chaos that ensued. Need- 
less to say, the problems affecting fire control were relegated 
to the background, and, indeed, the art of destroying towns 
received more consideration than that of their preservation. 
Thus it is that no records can be found of mechanical appli- 
ances being used at the conflagrations which demolished 
Constantinople and Vienna. Indeed, this retrograde move- 
ment had so far affected the whole subject that even in the 
Renaissance, when Europe teemed with fresh ideas and new 
thought, no other method of fighting fires existed than the 
primitive bucket of the Pre-Roman period. By 1590, how- 
ever, there were signs of an awakening interest and in an 
account of a fire in England the use of a monstrous syringe 
is related as the introduction of a novelty, although in 
reality it must have been practically a counterpart of the 
"siphonarius," mention of which was made in the last 
chapter. In 1615, a hand engine was made in Germany, 
but it was merely a pump without hose, the principle em- 
bodied being a rotary paddle wheel, which by being turned 
rapidly forced the water out through an orifice. This 
again was not new, the idea having probably been derived 
from Greek sources. Even in 1666, the good citizens of 

12 



THE EVOLUTION OF FIRE-FIGHTING 13 

London were without any mechanical appliances and were 
practically helpless to stem that terrific conflagration, which 
devastated their city and consumed 13,200 houses covering 
an area of 436 acres, the ancient cathedral of St. Paul 
and thirty-six other churches, the Royal Exchange, the 
Custom House, hospitals and four prisons, in which, in- 
cidentally, several persons lost their lives. The value of 
the property destroyed amounted to nearly sixty million 
dollars, and it undoubtedly served to impress upon the 
public mind the necessity of some proper system of fire pre- 
vention. Immediately afterwards the city was divided into 
four districts, each under the control of a special officer 
possessed of authority to take charge in the event of a 
fire. 

It must be understood that at this time social and eco- 
nomic conditions made life comparatively simple. Gas and 
matches were unknown thus eliminating those two fruitful 
sources of carelessness. Buildings were as a rule one-story 
in height and the floors, even in the dwellings of the wealthy, 
were flagged with stone. Hence the change was slow in 
coming and was concomitant with the demand for increased 
security of persons and property. Business activity began 
to show itself in all parts of Western Europe in the fifteenth 
century, and towns destined to be the industrial centres of 
the modern world had their genesis. With their growth 
began afresh a full appreciation of fire risks and the neces- 
sity of fire control. Yet it was not until the eighteenth cen- 
tury that one Richard Newsham designed a hand engine of 
practical utility. Water was supplied to it by hand and was 
then pumped out through a hose, thus forming the prede- 
cessor of the manual, draughting its own water and thereby 
supplying pumps. 

America had to learn her lesson in her own way. 
From the Atlantic to the Pacific her colonists found the 
country covered with dense forests, which were naturally 
utilized for building purposes, and, as a result, as early 
as 1648 the first fire ordinance was adopted in New York, 
forbidding the use of wooden chimneys and providing for 



i 4 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

the purchase of one hundred leather buckets, hooks and 
ladders. A body of volunteers was organized to patrol 
the streets at night and watch for outbreaks, who from 
their persistent, painstaking and sometimes rather indis- 
creet efforts were christened suggestively, "The Prowlers." 
Their work was, however, appreciated, and in 1678 the town 
of Boston organized the first regular fire company under 
municipal control and imported from England a species of 
hand pump. Only in 1808 did a Philadelphia firm put 
on the market riveted leather hose, and soon afterwards 
an ingenious hose carriage of American invention was 
adopted and remains in use in a modified form to the 
present day. England was the first country to manu- 
facture rubber hose, about 1820, and its employment with 
certain improvements has become general. The application 
of steam as a means of obtaining power was responsible 
for a revolution in fire apparatus as it was in all other 
lines of mechanical effort. It has contributed in no small 
degree to the construction of effective portable machinery 
with which to fight fires, and the benefits derived from its 
use have been almost incalculable. 

Obviously, it is the endeavour of all firemen to check a 
fire in its early stage, since generally speaking, its com- 
mencement is small and progress comparatively slow. It 
is no exaggeration to say that some of the great conflagra- 
tions which for hours and even days have baffled the com- 
bined efforts of huge fire departments with scores of 
determined firemen equipped with much powerful appara- 
tus, could have been extinguished in a few seconds by the 
cool-headed and well-directed work of one man armed with 
but a single pail of water, had he arrived in time. In other 
words, if ready means of suppressing a fire in its infancy 
were at hand many serious outbreaks might be averted, and 
hence it is that so much depends upon effective apparatus 
and the speed with which it is conveyed to the scene of 
action. 

For imagine what happened in the old days before the 
adoption of the steam fire engine. First, consider the 







THE "MODERN BISKS" CART OF THE 
TECHNICAL COMPANY OF LUCERNE. 



THE EVOLUTION OF FIRE-FIGHTING 15 

bucket period. A person discovering a fire would run to 
his nearest neighbour for help, and then the alarm would 
be given from one house to another and immediately all 
would be confusion. Volunteers there would be in plenty, 
armed with buckets or any other domestic utensil which 
would contain water. Forming a line they would pass the 
buckets from hand to hand, sending them back by their \ 
women folk to be refilled. With such loss of time and 
feeble resistance it is small wonder if usually the flames 
continued their course practically unchecked, and a build- 
ing saved from complete ruin was considered as a remark- 
able achievement. 

Next came the period of the hand engine. Bells upon 
churches and other public buildings were now the means of 
spreading the dire tidings, and upon hearing their summons 
the voluntary firemen would hurry to their quarters and 
drag their engine in the direction of the first alarm. Then 
arose the question, where was the nearest water supply, and 
no doubt time was wasted through unsolicited advice. If, 
as was often the case, the supply proved to be at too great 
a distance from the outbreak for one engine to furnish an 
efficient stream, a second was stationed between the fire 
and the water. The ensuing contest between both parties 
of excited men as to which should occupy the place of hon- 
our near the fire, and the efforts of the vanquished to pump 
up more water than the engine in front could use, no doubt, 
added to the gayety of the community, and the mythological 
God of Fire must have smiled and perhaps murmured, 
"What fools these mortals be." But this opera bouffe 
method of fire-fighting really served a useful purpose, 
inasmuch as the increasing seriousness of the fire risk did 
not appeal in the same degree to the sense of humour of 
those who lost their property, with the result that the advent 
of a new factor in fire control was welcomed by the influen- 
tial of the population. George Braithwaite, an English- 
man, first conceived a steam fire engine, which was com- 
pleted in the year 1829 and was a portent of the great 
change to come. Skeptics there were who scoffed at its 



16 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

superiority and who jeeringly referred to it as the "steam 
squirt" or the "kitchen stove." But it had come to stay, 
and in 1840, a New Yorker, by name Paul Hodges, con- 
structed a model of curious design, which, however, proved 
impracticable. 

The year 1845 was marked by the first of the great 
fires, which heralded the era of new building construction 
in the United States and which, therefore, deserves more 
than passing mention. Pittsburgh, Pa., was the scene of 
the disaster, which originated from the simplest act of 
carelessness. On washing day, in the early part of April, 
a house-wife made a small fire, upon which to boil water, 
in the back yard of her home. A high wind was blowing 
and sparks from her miniature bonfire were carried to 
a neighboring building, which quickly ignited. With in- 
credible rapidity the flames spread from house to house, 
and, despite the desperate efforts of volunteer and amateur 
firemen, the destruction ceased only when no material was 
left for the fire to feed upon in a territory fifty-six acres 
in extent. The financial loss was five million dollars, an 
enormous one for those days, and two thousand families 
wandered homeless over the charred remains of what had 
been their dwellings. This is one of those instances when 
prompt and timely action would have probably saved the 
situation, but the antiquated methods employed, coupled 
with the delay inseparable from the summoning of volun- 
teers, was just sufficient to transform what might have 
been a back-yard blaze into a conflagration of the first 
magnitude. And so it always will be in fire control; time 
is an ally of the utmost value, which in its turn demands 
the maximum of celerity on the part of all concerned. 
Prominence is given to this episode since some such re- 
minder was needed in America, as elsewhere, to stir up its 
citizens to a realization of what fire could accomplish, 
even from the smallest and most trifling beginnings. 

Untold romance lies in the history of the great forest 
fires of America, which even today rage to a large ex- 
tent uncontrolled, but which educated the early settlers to a 



THE EVOLUTION OF FIRE-FIGHTING 17 

vivid realization of their perils. Thus, in the prosperous 
colony of New Brunswick there is chronicled a conflagra- 
tion, which in its destructive horror has left an indelible 
mark upon the population as well as upon the land itself. 

Along the banks of the river Miramichi there were scat- 
tered in 1825 prosperous settlements of fishermen and 
farmers, while through the forest which extended for hun- 
dreds of miles to the north and south roamed hunters 
and trappers of nomadic habits in search of a livelihood. 
To them, nature appeared so bountiful, that no thought 
of any enemy common alike to both entered their con- 
tented minds. The summer had been a dry one and the 
autumn had brought but little rain, till the pine needles 
and leaves crackled under the weight of a passing step. 
And a careless lumberman was to transform this haven of 
quiet into a holocaust of ruin ! Having finished his evening 
pipe, he knocked it out against a tree stump and turned in, 
little recking of the consequences. He awoke to find 
the forest ablaze about him, and although fearfully burned 
managed to make his way to the nearest camp, where there 
was no need to tell his story. For east and west, north 
and south the glow of an unnatural day was upon them. 
From the waters of the Miramichi to the shores of Bay 
Chaleur, there was one roaring hurricane of flame and no 
human means wherewith to stay it. Dawn followed dawn 
bringing no relief, till the heart of a great province was 
transformed from a richly wooded country into a lonely 
and desolate waste. So much had been accomplished by 
human carelessness, though it is ever thus that the world 
has learned its lessons. No less than two hundred persons 
either perished in the flames or were drowned in the river, 
vainly trying to find safety in its cooling waters. Over 
a thousand horses and cattle were swept to their doom, and 
six thousand square miles of forest disappeared as com- 
pletely from the face of the earth as though they had never 
been. In some places the destruction of vegetation was 
so thorough that even to this day nothing can grow there 
but stunted shrubbery and coarse grass, a constant re- 



1 8 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

minder of this tragedy. With such examples of the terrific 
power of fire, was it surprising that the new world hailed 
the invention of the steam engine with enthusiasm as a 
possible panacea for its sufferings? 

Even to the amateur mechanic the principles governing 
the construction and working of the steam fire engine are 
simple and easy of understanding. In the earliest examples 
an upright boiler with a spacious fire box at its base was 
set between the rear wheels of an ordinary carriage body, 
and surmounted by a short smoke-stack. Bolted to the 
front of the boiler were two steam cylinders, above them 
being placed the pump itself, so that the piston rod of the 
engine served as the rod of the pump. Steam drove the 
pistons up and down in the engine, drawing water through 
a large suction hose on one side and forcing it out on the 
other through a smaller hose. From the pumps the water 
was forced to an air-chamber forming a cushion and serv- 
ing to equalize the pressure, thus giving an unvarying dis- 
charge. The principle of these pumps was, therefore, very 
much akin to that of the hand engine, but with enormously 
increased power. As this was long prior to the introduction 
of the water tube boiler, steam had to be generated in the 
old way, by which the heat given off by combustion is con- 
veyed by tubes through the boiler. The water supply of the 
boiler was obtained from a small pipe connected to or 
near the suction chamber and pumps. On the average the 
diameter of the cylinders in the various sizes of engines 
ranged from six and one-half to ten inches, while the stroke 
as a rule measured eight inches. These rough particulars 
will give the reader some idea of the chrysalis from which 
the modern fire engine has emerged. 

Since fires cannot be fought without water, some ac- 
count of the problem connected with its supply deserves 
attention. Here again may be observed the retrograde 
movement, since in Roman times it was not uncommon to 
find aqueducts forty miles in length, which, from their 
situation, were enabled to deliver to the city, In accordance 
with the laws of gravity, a sufficient quantity of water 




CAXTIN1ERE OF A FBENCH BUBAL FIBE BBIGADE. 



i c . t fc k - ***;! ; .*. *"** 



THE EVOLUTION OF FIRE-FIGHTING 19 

at a moderate pressure. Naturally this was of great 
advantage in fire-fighting and from historical records it 
is clear that the most was made of it. But in Europe of 
the middle ages, these lessons had been forgotten and the 
practice had fallen into desuetude. Rivers, wells and ponds 
were considered adequate for the needs of the population 
and it is curious to meditate that the intellectual wealth 
of that time expended itself solely upon art and the most 
profound metaphysics to the exclusion of more mundane, 
though probably more useful, considerations regarding pub- 
lic health and safety. Yet, even in the middle of the last 
century, it was by no means uncommon to find large towns 
dependent upon a water supply operated by private com- 
panies and conveyed by means of open mains through the 
streets. In 1815 Philadelphia introduced a complete system 
of underground pipes constantly supplied with water by 
a central pumping station. This plan proved a success and 
has since been gradually adopted even by many of the small- 
est towns in America. This system, however, did not at its 
initiation take into consideration the fire department, and 
the city of New York probably had the first water service 
to which hydrants were connected for that particular 
purpose. By degrees has been evolved from this mode 
of supply, that most valuable adjunct of modern fire-fight- 
ing, the "high pressure" system, which even now has not 
been extended to its limit of usefulness and which is lacking 
in cities where it should most certainly be installed. A 
detailed description of its advantages is given in a separate 
chapter. 

Naturally, an outbreak of fire being invariably attended 
with some danger to human life, those far-sighted Romans 
cast about for the most simple yet effective means of coping 
with the situation. Two pieces of their apparatus were 
specially designed for this purpose and have survived in 
a modified form until the present day. Firstly, mention 
must be made of the Roman ladder. The great advantage 
of this apparatus lies in its simplicity. In its constructive 
details it has changed practically not a whit since the days 



20 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

of Nero, and it is as useful in wide thoroughfares as in 
narrow courts, while its portability is such that one man 
can carry the entire equipment. It consists of a series of 
short ladders from six to nine feet in length, the lower 
part of each being slightly broader than the top. By means 
of a slot the sections can be fitted together, all being inter- 
changeable except that designed for the bottom, which has 
its sides somewhat more outspread in order to provide 
a firmer hold upon the ground. The method of erection 
is simple and ingenious. The lowest section is first placed 
against the wall to be scaled, at a considerable angle. The 
fireman then ascends it with a "section" on his shoulder 
and armed with a rope, a hook belted to his waist and 
a pulley. When he reaches a certain rung, which in modern 
practice is painted scarlet, he puts his leg through the ladder, 
his foot against the wall, and hooking himself on, in order 
to leave his hands free, pushes the ladder away from the 
wall and fits the "section" he has carried on the top of the 
"section" upon which he is standing. He then hauls up 
another "section" and repeats the same manoeuvre. At the 
Colosseum in Rome, for exhibition purposes, these ladders 
have been joined up together till they reached a total length 
of one hundred and sixty- four feet. This apparatus, it may 
be remarked, is in regular use in many of the Italian 
fire departments today. 

The second noteworthy appliance of Roman times, which 
has endured through all these centuries, and which in the 
writer's humble opinion, modern invention has not im- 
proved, is the jumping pillow. This was nothing more 
nor less than a large mattress some eight feet square, 
stuffed with hair or feathers, and designed to break the 
fall of any one jumping from a height. Nowadays the 
practice is to use a net made of heavy rope attached to 
springs to afford additional resiliency. The chances of 
any one jumping from a height of more than three stories 
must always be intensely hazardous, but all things con- 
sidered, there appears to be a balance in favor of landing 
on the pillow. During that most distressing fire at the 



THE EVOLUTION OF FIRE-FIGHTING 21 

Asch Building in New York, when a number of lives were 
lost, several young women attempted to jump to safety, 
were caught in the net and found death. The impetus 
their bodies gathered while falling was so terrific that 
the shock of the impact killed them in every case. Hence 
it will be seen that the fire-fighting world is still awaiting 
the genius of the inventor, who will be able to devise 
some other means of catching unfortunates who are com- 
pelled by dire necessity to jump to their doom. 

This brief resume will have been sufficient to demon- 
strate the fact that the inclusion of fire-fighting amongst 
the scientific problems of the day and as one worthy of 
serious consideration dates from modern times, and hence 
the many improvements which have been introduced into 
its practice are all of such recent origin, that even now they 
are only just emerging from an embryonic stage. It is 
probable that the next century will witness advances along 
all lines, of such immense consequence that present appara- 
tus will be totally outclassed and will be relegated to the 
glass cases and dusty environment of museums, where the 
curious of future generations will gaze with interest, tinged 
possibly with amusement, at the appliances used to fight 
the flames by their forefathers. So far the use of chem- 
istry as an ally of water in subduing fires is only in its 
infancy and though prophecy is admittedly unsatisfactory 
and more often than not misleading, it may be hazarded 
that the cumbersome steam fire pump will in due course 
disappear from the sphere of active operations and that the 
outbreaks of the future will be dealt with swiftly and easily 
by a combination of high pressure streams coupled with 
chemical forces as yet inoperative. It has taken many 
centuries to evolve the fire departments of the present, but 
as so often happens, now that a scientific advance has 
at last been made, that advance will continue with increas- 
ing rapidity until "fire," as was always intended, shall be 
the "servant" and not the "scourge" of man. 



CHAPTER IV 
"PAST AND PRESENT" REMINISCENCES OF A FIRE-FIGHTER 

A SAGE once penned the dictum that "Fire makes a 
good servant but a bad master," and few practical firemen 
will be found to argue the accuracy of the statement. 
For the fire-fighter, life consists of one protracted struggle 
against this most crafty of elements, which oftentimes is 
most dangerous when apparently subdued and which, in its 
methods of attack, would appear to be guided by some 
Machiavellian master mind of strategy. Hence it goes 
without saying that successfully to cope with such an 
adversary demands the maximum of skill and determina- 
tion, which are fundamental characteristics of the genus 
fireman. The sailor is an idol of the public largely because 
he is ever pictured as pitting his seamanship and science 
against the two stubborn forces of wind and waves. In 
song and story he is immortalized as the acme of all that 
is dashing and fearless, and it is small wonder that the 
younger generation, inspired by such narratives, yearns to 
emulate such heroes. Yet, for some strange reason, the 
fireman has never occupied so large a place in popular ro- 
mance; his deeds have not been chronicled with the same 
degree of graphic narration, the cheap notoriety of the 
music hall ballad has perhaps happily been denied him, and 
it has remained for the daily press to utilize him as a 
convenient "feature," in the absence of other material. 
This must not be taken as implying any want of generosity 
on the part of those concerned; but naturally a minor 
fire, though involving considerable risk to those operating 
against it, cannot receive the same publicity as that accorded 

22 



REMINISCENCES OF A FIRE-FIGHTER 23 

to some event of general interest. Also, it must be re- 
membered that it is a common trait of human nature to 
accept without particular comment the services of any or- 
ganization to which it has become accustomed. The average 
person is ignorant of the sea, except through the medium 
of what is written, and hence, being unfamiliar otherwise 
with the subject, instinctively envelops the calling of the 
sailor with a glamour of romanticism and mystery. 

Nevertheless, to those who care to seek it, there is a 
potent fascination in the career of a fireman; a life full 
of ever- vary ing incident and a calling which may well 
make appeal to the imagination of the young man in 
search of adventure. 

Picture a warm, well-lighted recreation room. A dozen 
firemen are gathered about tables passing away the time 
with dominoes and pool, while one of their number is amus- 
ing himself at the piano by strumming over the latest popu- 
lar airs. Suddenly the alarm gong sounds. It is a district 
call, and almost instantaneously the men are in their jerseys 
and boots. The pianist has disappeared down the sliding 
pole with a celerity which would put to shame the demon in 
a fairy play. While the others are following, the horses 
have already clattered from their stalls and taken their 
allotted places under their harness. With a snap and a 
click their collars are locked, the drivers leap to their seats 
and as the station doors swing automatically open, the 
firemen clamber onto the apparatus, which is already un- 
der way. "Not so bad," mutters the officer in charge, 
"eighteen seconds from the alarm." Outside the night 
is chill and misty, intensified by a steady drizzle. The 
streets are greasy and the engine rocks perilously from side 
to side as, with bell clanging and siren sounding, it dashes 
at full speed along thoroughfares crowded with home- 
going pleasure-seekers. Arrived at the scene of the outbreak 
it is found that the cause of the trouble is a large ware- 
house on the waterfront, full of combustible materials al- 
ready well ablaze. The driver, versed in the geography 
of the district, pulls up at the nearest hydrant. A loud 



24 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

clattering heralds the approach of the hose wagon. A burly 
fireman deftly catches the end of a hose section thrown to 
him and couples up to the standpipe. Then the crew, with 
an automatic precision born of long experience, lay hold 
of their weapons, the hose pipes, and advance to the attack. 
Above the roar of the flames raging up the elevator shaft of 
the building resounds the shrill crescendo of a ship's whis- 
tle. A fire boat has responded to the call and is wending 
its way rapidly along the water's edge. Within a period, 
measurable only by seconds, it also has joined in the fray 
and is directing several streams upon the rear of the main 
fire, thus carrying out the most effective manoeuvre in mod- 
ern warfare, that of outflanking the enemy. Meantime 
other engines and other apparatus have arrived. Curious 
crowds have collected and strong drafts of police are kept 
busy in preventing the hampering of the brigade's efforts. 
A large motor draws up. Its occupant is the fire chief, 
distinguishable from all others by a white helmet. There is 
no confusion, little excitement, the General has arrived to 
take the supreme command. An officer briefly outlines 
the situation; the fire has gained such and such a hold, 
so many pieces of apparatus are being employed with a 
certain end in view, the only question is whether the 
General is satisfied that the forces are being used to the 
best possible advantage. They decide that a personal in- 
spection is necessary and without delay the Chief enters 
the building. Nearby stands a hospital ambulance, with its 
doctor and orderlies ready for any emergency, for even 
as on a battlefield casualties are to be expected. By order 
of the Chief a heavier attack is developed upon a particular 
portion of the structure and an extension ladder shoots 
up through the murk with men clinging cat-like to its rungs 
even as it lengthens. An order rings out "Start water," and 
a powerful jet is forced into the heart of the seething 
inferno. 

The crucial point in the attack upon the fire has now 
arrived. It is as though each contestant were summoning 
up his reserves with a view to one overwhelming effort at 




"FIBST AID*' HYDRANT AND 

HOOK AND LADDER CART OF LUCERNE. 



REMINISCENCES OF A FIRE-FIGHTER 25 

mastery. Flames have crept into the cellars, rendering the 
task of the firemen in that quarter almost impossible. Sev- 
eral are overcome by heat and smoke and are quickly re- 
moved to the ambulance, their places being speedily taken 
by reliefs. But still the fire gains. Moreover, a new ally 
assists the flames in the shape of a snapped, heavily-charged 
electric light cable. Like some huge serpent it twists and 
writhes hither and thither, menacing with instant death 
those, who again and again essay to check its career. It 
hisses venomously, its blue glare blinds them in the per- 
vading gloom until with one supreme effort it is seized 
and denuded of its fangs, being severed from the main. 
One successful skirmish does not, however, constitute a 
victory, and a reinforcement of the enemy appears to check 
too confident an advance. The roof is yet intact and upon 
the third floor the firemen are met by great volumes of 
dense smoke, which threaten "back draught." With axes 
and hatchets, doors and shutters are demolished, anything 
to create a draught. A sheet of flame and a whirling 
eddy of sparks momentarily envelop the workers on the 
extension ladder and few among the watchers can credit 
their safety as they emerge from this fiery whirlpool, 
clothes burnt, hair singed, hands blistered, but still fight- 
ing on with grim determination. That marked the last 
desperate stand of the enemy. The Niagara of water is 
beginning to tell and a sullen pall of smoke darkens the 
angry brilliance of the blaze. Some of the companies are 
recalled to their stations to be in readiness for other out- 
breaks, while a sufficient number of men remain until the 
last vestiges of their foe have disappeared. Then they, 
too, retire, perchance to a well-earned rest. 

This is by no means an over-coloured picture of an every- 
day fire in the warehouse district of any city ; moreover it 
is devoid of the heartrending scenes and' nerve racking 
uncertainty inseparable from those occasions when human 
lives are involved. Thus, who shall say that the life of the 
fireman lacks that romance, which is supposed to be in- 
alienable from them "that go down to the sea in ships, that 



26 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

do business in great waters." As a matter of fact the career 
of those who fight the flames teems with anecdotes of splen- 
did courage, self-denying heroism and hair-breadth escapes, 
which furnish material and to spare for the great masters 
of the pen. For instance, this from real life : 

During the progress of a serious fire in the city of Boston, 
the Assistant Chief went to the top of the building involved 
for the purpose of opening the hydrants connected with 
its water protection. Whilst thus engaged he was cut off 
from all means of escape save one, which consisted of a 
heavy telegraph cable connected to a separate building 
across the street. In order to make his predicament known, 
he threw his fire helmet to the ground, many feet below. 
Extension ladders were erected with all rapidity, but were 
prevented from reaching him by a tangle of overhead wires. 
By this time his clothing was on fire and the position was 
rapidly becoming untenable. All that separated possible 
life from a horrible death was that cable. Crawling to 
the edge of the building he swung himself onto the wire, 
which swayed and quivered with his weight. With the 
utmost presence of mind, hand over hand and leg over leg, 
he worked his way toward the centre of the cable, where 
he remained suspended ninety feet above the ground. Had 
the line run directly across the street, the officer, with the 
distance he had actually covered, would have reached 
safety. 

But unfortunately the line was at an upward angle and 
his efforts to reach the point which he had gained had 
sapped his vital energy to that degree which made further 
progress impossible. Men were hastily placed on hose 
wagons, which were backed in together to form a circle. A 
life net was then stretched between them, in case his strength 
should give out and his grasp relax. Fortunately at this 
juncture, one of the firemen with a special knowledge of 
knots made his way to the roof of the house upon which 
the fire-free end of the cable was attached. Fastening a 
rope to the cable, he sawed the latter through, thus enabling 
both man and cable to be lowered inch by inch towards 



REMINISCENCES OF A FIRE-FIGHTER 27 

the ground. When the knot joining cable to rope was 
reached, the officer lost his hold and was caught by his 
comrades in the net and carried into the street. This ex- 
citing escape proved no barrier to the further duty of this 
fireman, who twenty-four hours after this incident was 
able to report for service and "carry on" as though nothing 
had happened. 

In the early days before fire departments had come to be 
officially recognized, dependence had necessarily to be placed 
upon volunteers and many are the stories, humorous and 
pathetic, which could be told about them. The fascination 
of the service certainly extended to those who enrolled, 
judging by their social position and by the fact that many 
of them gave up valuable time in order the better to 
qualify for their duties. Some peculiar entries are to be 
found in the old minute books of these stations, indicative 
of the fact that the commonest breach of discipline would 
appear to have been a too free use of strong language. 
Thus, the secretary of one company reports a fireman for 
saying to him, "You be damned, you damned old Dutch 
hog," for which he was severely reprimanded; while the 
puritan spirit was carried so far that a man was fined 
for saying "Damn the odds." 

Some fifty years ago it was customary for all young 
men to belong to associations of some sort, religious, social, 
or political. The story goes that one such youth was 
sitting in a tavern and overheard others of his age dis- 
cussing the societies to which they subscribed. This filled 
him with a desire to go and do likewise, so on his return 
home he told his mother of his ambition, remarking that 
he was not particular as to the nature of the club which 
he joined. There was a great revival going on in those 
days and like all good mothers she told him to go with 
her and join the church. "Well," quoth he, "I don't spe- 
cially care what it is, but I must belong to something." 
So down to the church he went, but to his chagrin the min- 
ister told him that he must be placed on probation for 
three months. When that period had expired he was told 



28 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

that he must wait yet another two months. Some time 
passed, when one day the minister happened to meet his 
probationer walking down the street in a neat, red shirt, 
a gaudy pair of suspenders, a coat thrown over his arm 
and bearing a number on his back. "Aha," said the pastor, 
"you're the one I want to see. You haven't been to church 
of late." "No, Dominie," answered the young man, "that 
probation was too long for me." "But," cried the former, 
"it is at an end and you can now join the church." "Too 
late, too late, Dominie. I've joined an engine company 
down here and it's going to take all my time to look after 
fires. I'm going to one now. You see I was bound to 
join something and these fellows let me in without any 
probation; all I had to do was to give up two dollars 
and I was called a member. Come round to see us Dominie, 
we've got as bully a little engine as ever went to a fire." 
From which it may deduced that the pleasures of earthly 
fires were greater to the majority of young folk than the 
terrors of the fires to come, as depicted no doubt in the 
Bible meetings. 

About that time one of the most popular chiefs was 
James Gulick, who commanded the New York Fire De- 
partment. The following incident is illustrative of the 
affection in which he was held by his men. A fire had 
broken out in Centre Street, adjoining the works of the 
New York Gas Company, which had destroyed two houses. 
Against the gable end of one of the burhing buildings a 
large number of barrels of resin were piled, and the 
firemen worked diligently to save them by rolling them into 
the street. The night was intensely cold, and somebody 
kindled a small fire with a part of the contents of a broken 
barrel, which the workmen employed by the gas company 
attempted to extinguish. These were warned by the firemen 
to desist, and a big, heavy fellow who continued his efforts 
was pushed away. Thereupon a large number of his friends 
attacked the few firemen in charge, who were joined by 
their comrades and a fight ensued. The brigade was vic- 
torious. Gulick heard of the affair and hastened to the 



REMINISCENCES OF A FIRE-FIGHTER 29 

scene exclaiming, "What does all this shameful conduct 
mean at such a moment/' The only answer was a blow 
from a workman, who struck his head from behind with 
an iron bar, and only his helmet protected him from 
serious injury. Turning upon his assailant the Chief pur- 
sued him across the ruins of a fallen wall and threw him 
upon the debris, but was followed in his turn by some 
thirty or forty employees. "Men, stand by your Chief," 
was the cry of the devoted brigade, and in an instant the 
attack was turned into a rout, the workmen taking refuge 
in the gas house. Gulick, by almost superhuman efforts, 
forced an entrance in advance of his enraged followers, and 
amid volleys of coal buckets, called upon the rioters to 
surrender, promising protection. His reply was a charge 
with a red-hot poker, which fortunately passed through 
his trumpet, which he carried under his arm. This put an 
end to his forbearance and jumping from the doorway, 
he shouted, "Now men, surround the house; don't let one 
of them escape." The excited firemen rushed into the 
building and administered a sound thrashing to their trucu- 
lent foes, who were afterwards arrested, and even then the 
former were not appeased and attempted to destroy the 
machinery which was only saved by the Chief's firmness 
and discipline. 

After the great fire of 1835, which caused twenty million 
dollars' worth of damage and dislodged more than six hun- 
dred mercantile firms, the resignation of Gulick was de- 
manded, upon which the brigade in toto struck work and it 
was only with the greatest difficulty that it was reestab- 
lished on a satisfactory basis. 

Perhaps the writer may be forgiven for trespassing upon 
the patience of his readers to the extent of drawing from 
his own personal experience some anecdotes illustrative 
of the various phases of his life, both before and since he 
became a fireman. If there is any truth in the old adage 
that experientia docet, then assuredly thirty years of 
practical fire-fighting in the largest organization of the kind 
in the world entitle him to form some opinions and arrive 



30 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

at some conclusions. It would not be difficult to write a 
whole book with the personal material at hand, but the 
present object is rather briefly to show how any young 
man minus influence or capital, but possessed of determina- 
tion, may climb the ladder leading to positions of grave re- 
sponsibility and ultimately to the head of his chosen pro- 
fession. Incidentally the writer wishes to emphasize the 
fact that his advancement was in no way due to any excep- 
tional opportunities or to what is termed popularly good 
luck, but rather to a steady and unremitting attention to 
duty, coupled with some of that perseverance which in 
that historic race between the hare and the tortoise gave 
the victory to the latter. 

Since the following narratives are the writer's own ex- 
periences, it seems more apropos to relate them in the first 
person. 

At the immature age of three I may claim to have 
received my baptism of fire, since like most other young- 
sters anything to do with the forbidden joys of matches 
possessed an unholy fascination for me. One day while 
playing with some other children, whose tastes were simi- 
lar to my own, I conceived the brilliant idea of making 
a good blaze in the hay yard. I cannot remember whence 
I procured the matches, which in those days were a great 
luxury and were carefully hoarded, but since desire is the 
father of acquisition, by hook or crook I secured some, 
and what could make a better bonfire than a haystack? 
Within less time than it takes to write, one was in flames 
and we jumped and danced around it playing at Red In- 
dians, until some unsympathetic neighbours came running 
from all directions gesticulating wildly. It then occurred 
to me for the first time that I had done wrong, and I 
promptly showed a clean pair of heels to avenging justice. 
Running into the house I hid under the bed and while 
workmen and friends busied themselves in saving the house, 
I lay there not daring to emerge. Not until the excitement 
had subsided were enquiries made as to the origin of the 
fire and knowing my foibles I, of course, was suspected and 




Copyright. 1888, by Harper < Brothers 



STRUGGLING THROUGH THE DRIFTS 
OF THE GREAT BLIZZARD. 



REMINISCENCES OF A FIRE-FIGHTER 31 

a search was instituted for the incipient firebug. It did 
not take long to discover me and drag me forth, when 
my angry mother carried me to an adjacent stream, telling 
me that such naughty boys had better be drowned early 
in life than be allowed to live to burn up property and 
people. My feelings of remorse can easily be imagined, 
and I promised that never in my life would I again start a 
fire and that always I would do whatever lay in my power 
to extinguish conflagrations. 

But this childish prank, aside from the promise that I 
made on that occasion which I have ever kept, taught me one 
great lesson. It is, that children, when frightened by fire, 
have a tendency to conceal themselves under beds, and, 
therefore, in searching a dwelling, firemen never neglect 
to look carefully in these hiding places. When children 
are awakened by suffocating smoke or by members of the 
household during excitement consequent upon fire, unless 
watched they will invariably crawl under beds, thinking in 
their childish fancy that thereby they are safely hidden 
from the flames, and many a little body is on that account 
brought forth lifeless. 

It is, of course, difficult to lay down any hard and fast 
rule for occasions of this sort, but it might be impressed 
upon children from their very earliest years that under no 
circumstances should they adopt this method of hiding. 
Whether in games, or to avoid Mamma with a slipper, the 
practice is a bad one and though the actual occasion may 
never arise to prove the value of this instruction, it will 
undoubtedly, in that odd chance of five hundred, be the 
means of preserving a precious life. In fact, this is the 
epitome of fire control, watch and be prepared for the odd 
chance, for just as the individual who is foolish enough 
to carry a revolver will probably never need it, but if he 
does, will need it uncommonly badly, so in all fire pre- 
cautions, necessity for their use may never arise, but should 
the unforeseen happen, their absence may prove disastrous. 

From my childhood I always possessed a great love 
for the sea, and thus it happened that at the age of 13, I 



32 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

shipped as "boy" in a top-sail schooner bound from White- 
haven to Dundalk with a cargo of coal. Her name was 
the Gazelle, and, judging by her behaviour on that eventful 
trip, her owners were not mistaken in thus christening her. 
We left Whitehaven in the middle of an unusually stormy 
December and by the time we were off the Isle of Man 
we were running into a howling southeasterly gale, which 
was not improved by incessant squalls of blinding sleet. 
Needless to say, I experienced the additional discomfort of 
being horribly sea-sick, not that on that account I was per- 
mitted to escape my share of the ship's work. I can re- 
member, as though it were yesterday, making my way 
along the wave swept decks and wondering what on earth 
had ever induced me to leave the comforts of terra firma 
for such an inferno of physical torment as was apparently 
offered by a sea life. After hours of incessant tacking we 
managed to make Belfast Lough, where we found 
shelter, and anchored preparatory to riding the storm out. 
The ship was in a terribly battered condition, sails blown 
to ribbons, boats washed away and half the bulwarks gone. 
"Ship's boy" in those days was synonymous with "maid 
of all work," and as there is, so it is affirmed, no rest for 
the wicked, I was promptly told off to make up a good fire 
in the "bogie," a dirty little black stove which smoked 
incessantly and had been the bane of my existence during 
the voyage. Full of anxiety to disprove the reputation 
which I had gained as a sea-sick land lubber, I stoked up 
and soon had a warm, comfortable glow in the fo'castle. 
Then I turned in. 

It must have been half an hour later that I awakened 
to find the heat becoming oppressive. The cause was not 
far to seek, the boat was afire. 

The black bogie had again played me a low trick and had 
become red hot. Morever, the flue had caught the infection 
and, in its turn, was transmitting the disease so effectually 
that bulkhead and deck planking were emitting a miniature 
Vesuvius of smoke and sparks. Without waiting for any 
instructions, I attacked the invader with buckets of water, 



REMINISCENCES OF A FIRE-FIGHTER 3 3 

the sleepy crew lending an extraordinarily willing hand 
when they realized that their belongings were in peril. On 
the painful events following the captain's appearance, I will 
not dwell. Suffice it to say that I received the smartest 
lacing the old man could give me, the memory of which 
remained with me long after I had left the merchant service. 
But the moral is obvious. Anything more ludicrous than 
stove pipes passing through unprotected wooden bulkheads 
it would be hard to imagine, yet such is the conservatism 
of the sea that it is by no means uncommon to find such 
conditions even today in small coasters and smacks. 

The foregoing was my first fire at sea, but I was fated 
to have another experience of a more serious character. 
I happened to be quartermaster in the old "Abyssinia" of 
the now defunct Guion Line, plying between New York 
and Liverpool. We had sailed from the former port in 
the month of July, with nine hundred passengers of all 
classes and a full cargo of cotton. About 280 miles east 
of Cape Race a fire was discovered in the main hold, which, 
though located in the middle of the night, was kept from 
the passengers' knowledge till the noon of the following 
day, when the united efforts of the crew had been found 
insufficient to cope with the outbreak. The captain then 
decided to call upon the passengers to lend a hand, and 
men and women from saloon, intermediate and steerage, 
bravely combined with the sailors in their dangerous task. 
Happily the sea was smooth and, to the lasting credit of 
all concerned, there was no panic. 

Steam was used to fight the burning cotton, and as the 
seamen were overcome by smoke in the darkness of the 
hold, volunteers took their places, with the result that 
after three days of incessant labour the outbreak was under 
control. Had there been a panic or had the flames gained 
the upper hand, the result would have been hideous beyond 
words since there were only boats to accommodate three 
hundred persons. It only remains to add that Queenstown 
was made in safety without any casualty, and though the 
incident lacks any spectacular element, it contains material 



34 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

for thought regarding the principles governing fire control 
at sea. 

The use of steam on shipboard for the extinction of fires 
is general, though its efficiency is open to serious question. 
When water becomes steam it is practically non-absorbent, 
since in assuming this form it has been subjected to great 
heat. As the object desired in fighting a fire is the ab- 
sorption of the heat created by the flames, it is apparent 
that any element at a high temperature is unable to obtain 
with certainty its reduction. All that can be expected from 
steam is that by its moisture it may be able to check a 
further advance of the enemy. Hence, if steam must be 
used let it contain as much moisture as possible or, in 
simple language, let it be used at as low a temperature as 
is compatible with its existence. But in the opinion of 
the writer the whole subject is one of such a highly com- 
plex character, and withal of such overwhelming impor- 
tance that it merits the study and consideration of all con- 
cerned in the safety of passengers and cargo in ocean 
going vessels. 

About the autumn of 1878 I shipped as first officer on 
a steamer bound from Chicago to Buffalo with a cargo of 
oats. All went well until we were in Lake Erie, about 
sixty miles from Buffalo. I had a trick at the wheel from 
8 to 12 in the first night watch and on being relieved I 
went forward to the deck-house, filled my pipe and prepared 
to enjoy a smoke. Scarcely had I got it well alight when 
I heard a cry of fire, and rushing out, saw flames bursting 
through the after hatch close to the companion-way leading 
to the cabin. The captain, who had been on deck most 
of the time during the first watch, had gone below a few 
minutes before. His wife, who was with us on the trip, 
was in the cabin at the moment. Running aft I realized 
we had a very dangerous fire with which to contend. The 
deck watch, in charge of the mate, attacked the blaze 
and I dashed into the cabin to notify the captain and his 
wife. 

In a few minutes they were both on deck and the fire 



REMINISCENCES OF A FIRE-FIGHTER 3 5 

had so increased that I suggested the advisability of getting 
out the boat and launching, in addition, the life raft which 
we carried. This was agreed upon, since the steamer was 
constructed of wood and her condition was hopeless. We 
succeeded in lowering the raft, but the flames had spread 
with such rapidity that they had enveloped that part of 
the ship from which the life-boat swung, making its 
launching an impossibility. Wrapping a blanket around the 
captain's wife, who was clad only in her night-dress, we 
were able to get her on the raft, but she suddenly remem- 
bered that her jewellery had been left behind and implored 
her husband to secure it for her. His complaisance almost 
cost him his life, for on his return to the cabin he was 
severely burnt about the head and face and he failed, in 
addition, to gain his object. The dry oats proved excellent 
fuel, and it speedily became evident that the ship was 
doomed. We had either to remain by it or to take to the 
raft, which was built to carry ten persons, while we were 
fourteen all told. The stokers, engineers and deck hands 
joined the terrified woman, while the captain, the mate 
and I went forward to that part of the vessel which was 
not yet involved in the general conflagration. We stood 
together near the bow watching the fire advance slowly 
toward us. The heat was intense and the lake was lighted 
up for miles around by the flames. Suddenly the fore- 
mast fell. It barely missed the captain, who stood in a 
dazed condition by my side. The mate and I realized that 
in a few minutes we should be forced to jump overboard 
and made ready by removing our clothing, until we stood 
only in our undershirts and trousers. From the raft, 
which was about 250 feet to windward of the burning 
vessel, came an imploring cry, beseeching the captain to 
leave his ship and come to his wife. He shook hands 
with us and sprang overboard. As he was a powerful 
swimmer, he was soon alongside the raft. We, how- 
ever, remained where we were for perhaps ten minutes, 
when it became a question of death by fire or taking our 
chances in the water. The water seemed inviting in com- 



36 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

parison with the flames, and we did not hesitate to plunge 
overboard after saying "Good-bye" and murmuring a few 
words of prayer. Never shall I forget my sensations when 
I felt the cold waters of Lake Erie that October morning ! 
Actually blistering from the heat, I thought I had been 
suddenly transported to Paradise. Between the pleasures 
of dying by drowning and the horrors of being roasted 
to death there is a gulf almost as wide as that which 
divides the celestial realms from the regions of the damned, 
and the sense of security and relief from pain was almost 
indescribable. But now a new difficulty confronted me. 

I had learned to swim in salt water and I found the fresh 
water exceedingly light and hard in which to keep afloat. 
By easy strokes I contrived to get near the raft, but alas, 
there was no room for me upon it and any such attempt on 
my part would have spelled disaster and probable death to 
all concerned. Floating and swimming by turns I kept up 
for about an hour when my strength began to waver and 
semi-unconsciousness supervened. Amongst the crew was 
a negro cook who sang songs and cracked jokes in an 
effort to keep up the courage of his unfortunate comrades. 
All the time that I had been swimming by the raft, this 
cheerful creature had watched me, and as I was about to 
sink I felt his hand take hold of my shirt and heard his 
voice in words of comfort. He quietly drew me 'toward 
him and with the help of the chief engineer got me se- 
curely seated on the raft. Then he slipped overboard, 
where he lay on his back and floated like a chip. For 
seven hours he stayed in the water, helping the captain 
and mate alternately to rest on the raft when they be- 
came exhausted. The chief engineer and another took 
turns in swimming, but neither stayed in the water as long 
as did this sturdy coloured man. Never once did he com- 
plain. He was the same cheerful soul at the end of his 
long trial as he had been when he left Chicago. We were 
rescued eventually by a tug which had put out from Buf- 
falo, having seen the flames sixty miles away. The mem- 
ory of that brave negro has always remained with me. 



REMINISCENCES OF A FIRE-FIGHTER 37 

I may say that I owe my life to him, for, though a fair 
swimmer, I could never have lasted through those terrible 
eight hours without his unselfish assistance. There has al- 
ways been in my heart a feeling of gratitude, not alone 
to the brave fellow who, I am sorry to say, lost his life 
afterwards in a railway accident, but to the race to which 
he belonged. 

Many years afterwards, when an engineer of a certain 
company, I had an opportunity of vicariously pay- 
ing off something of this debt. We responded to a 
fire, which proved to be in a tenement occupied by coloured 
people. The building was already a mass of flames and 
several persons on the upper floors were cut off from 
escape. Two coloured women and a little boy were trapped 
on the third floor. Mounting to the windows by extension 
ladders, we could see them with their clothing already on 
fire. The only chance of saving them was a desperate 
one, but we took it. Fireman Malavey and I entered and 
succeeded in passing the three to others outside, who car- 
ried them safely to the ground. The boy and young wo- 
man are alive today, but the elder woman was so badly 
burnt that she died in the hospital on the following morning. 
It only remains to be said that the one life lost in the Lake 
Erie fire was that of the captain's wife, who succumbed 
shortly afterwards from exposure, a circumstance made 
doubly sad from the fact that she was a beautiful bride 
of only four months. 

Curiously enough, my first active service in the New 
York Fire Department was in connection with a vessel 
on fire and is illustrative of the adage that all knowledge 
is valuable. 

As is usually the case with a new member of the force, 
I was extremely nervous during my first nights at the 
station. Although my sea- faring life had taught me to be 
accustomed to turning out any moment and in all sorts 
of weather, I speedily found that the watching and wait- 
ing for the alarm gong possessed a mental strain of its 
own, which, incidentally, is common to all fire-fighters. 



3 8 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

During the night in question I had lain awake with tense 
nerves, fearing that the call might come and that I might 
get left behind. Then I fell into a troubled sleep, to be 
roused by the sound I had so long expected. In my anxiety 
I stumbled over my own boots and narrowly escaped up- 
setting my neighbour, who did not appreciate the atten- 
tion. I gained my object, however, and my nightmare of 
missing my first alarm dissolved as we galloped through 
the silent streets. 

A French ship was involved, a fire having broken out 
in the forward hold. With enthusiasm, I seized a length 
of hose, only to be told in official phraseology to leave it 
alone. Not comprehending the order, I attempted to board 
the vessel, but was stopped by the battalion chief, who 
recognized in me a recruit. Perhaps I may here remark 
that it took me a full month to master the regular words 
of command, which are peculiar to fire departments. 
Eventually I found my chance, for with my marine knowl- 
edge I knew how best to tackle the trouble, and, creeping 
along through the smoke, made my way to the heart of 
the outbreak. There I was found later by the Chief, 
who, finding me on my face using the hose to the best 
of my ability, told me to get up, and lending me a help- 
ing hand, together we extinguished the fire. I was later 
complimented on my action, and I am happy to say that 
my kindly mentor still survives and occupies an honoured 
position in the department. 

Out of the memories of my many years' experience of 
fire-fighting it is difficult to select one particular conflagra- 
tion as being more thrilling in its incidents than any 
other. All fires entail risk to life in a greater or smaller 
degree, and are therefore replete with that human interest 
which makes special appeal to the heart. For even in the 
factory or warehouse outbreak human lives are endangered ; 
the lives of the firemen employed. But sometimes cir- 
cumstances do arise which require the pen of a Stevenson 
to give them that actuality and force which alone can 
depict them in their fearful vividness. 




THE GENNEVILLIEBS GAS-WORKS FIRE BRIGADE 
LIFE-SAVING TRUCK. 



REMINISCENCES OF A FIRE-FIGHTER 3 9 

To my dying day I shall never forget the horrors ac- 
companying the burning of the Park Avenue Hotel. 

At 1.30 on the morning of February 22nd, 1902, the 
gong in the quarters of Engine Co. 72 sounded 3-3-446, 
which, translated into bald English, signified the fact that 
a dangerous and threatening fire was raging in the vicinity 
of Park Avenue and Thirty- fourth Street in the Borough 
of Manhattan, New York City. In other words, it was a 
third alarm, summoning to the scene thirteen engine com- 
panies, four hook and ladder companies, the Chief of the 
Department, the Deputy Chief, and four Battalion Chiefs. 
Engine Company 72 responded on the third alarm and 
in less than twenty seconds after the receipt of the first 
tap of the gong they were clear of the doors of the quarters 
and on their way to the fire. At that time I was Captain 
of this company, and beginning to feel the full weight of 
my responsibility. A fierce gale from the northeast raged 
about us as we left our comfortable quarters, the snow and 
sleet lashing our faces and making vision almost impossible. 
The driver of the engine has since often assured me that 
for a mile and a half of the distance to be covered he let 
his horses gallop without knowing his precise whereabouts. 
Yet in spite of the storm we reached the scene of the fire 
in less than five minutes. 

On our arrival we found that the 7ist Regimental 
Armory, situated at the southeast corner of Park 
Avenue and Thirty- fourth Street, was ablaze. The 
interior of this imitation fortress was of wood and 
filled with arms and ammunition of every description. 
Evidently the fire had been burning for some time, for as 
we pulled up there was a constant rattle of exploding 
cartridges, for all the world as though our services had 
been requisitioned to a field of battle. In addition to this 
the building was heavily charged with a smoke, which 
reached the explosive point as soon as an opening admitting 
a fresh supply of oxygen was effected. Orders were re- 
ceived from the commanding officer, Deputy Chief Duane, 
that a line was to be taken into the armory by the Thirty- 



40 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

fourth street entrance. At this moment the truck com- 
panies succeeded in opening these doors, but the pressure 
of heated air and gas blew the men back into the street. 
Almost instantly the whole interior of the building was a 
seething mass of flame. Nothing further, apparently, could 
be done here, as my instructions then were to cover the 
dwelling houses on the east side of Thirty- fourth Street, 
where we fought the fire back until the wall of this part of 
the armory fell outwards, burying our line and cutting it in 
two. Some idea of the difficulties confronting us can be 
imagined when I add that the position from which we 
were fighting consisted of a narrow strip of street, some 
twenty-five feet wide, bounded on one side by the flames 
and on the other by a trench forty feet deep, which was 
being prepared for the reception of the present subway. 
The break in our line naturally shut off the stream, and 
I went immediately to see what had happened. Meeting 
the officer in charge, I was ordered to take yet another 
position in Park Avenue, in order to cover the Fourth 
Avenue car stables. These were to the south of the fire 
and it was this change which brought my company into 
a position that enabled it to assist in the most harrowing 
and exciting events that I have ever experienced on land 
or sea. 

To begin with, this manoeuvre necessitated our crossing 
the subway trench, which, incidentally, we were told, con- 
tained three tons of blasting powder. It has always been 
a marvel to me that this did not explode, exposed as it 
was to sparks and burning embers. We managed to reach 
our goal in safety by means of the engineering shores used 
in the "cut and cover" system of excavation. 

At this moment, from some unexplained cause 
the Park Avenue Hotel took fire. The figure of 
a woman clad only in her night clothes appeared 
at a fifth-story window and above the roar of the 
flames and the exploding of the ammunition could 
be heard screaming for help. Even as her voice rang 
out, guests could be seen watching the conflagration from 



REMINISCENCES OF A FIRE-FIGHTER 41 

their bedrooms, while in the foyer men were strolling 
about, cigars in their mouths, discussing with interest the 
probable amount of damage which would be caused by the 
blaze. Little did they realize that the angel of death, with 
wings outstretched, was hovering over the building in 
which they were. Our change of position made us among 
the foremost to effect an entrance. From the first we were 
hampered by the revolving doors, which prevented our 
handling our lines with facility. Thus valuable time was 
lost and our task rendered the more difficult. Our arrival 
had been heralded with the frankest incredulity, but once 
onlookers realized the grizzly danger threatening their dear 
ones, they had to be forcibly restrained from adding them- 
selves to the human sacrifices awaiting us upon the floors 
above. 

As we climbed the stairs the smoke grew denser and 
denser, till our breath came in strangling gasps and 
physical endurance seemed about to fail. It was impossible 
to see. On hands and knees we groped and felt like blind 
men, instinct our only guide. 

And then the horror! 

Imagine crawling sightless along a strange corridor. Im- 
agine the outstretched hand wandering over an unknown 
substance which slowly reveals itself to be a corpse. That 
would be a ghastly situation. But add to it the distant 
crackling of flame licking its way remorselessly from floor 
to floor, the shouts of firemen in difficulty, the sobs and 
piteous entreaties of unseen women dying slowly from 
suffocation; and can Hell be pictured as more hideous! 

Grimly, however, all ranks alike stuck to their lines, 
scrambled over these gruesome barriers and with almost 
miraculous tenacity of purpose succeeded in quelling the 
grim destroyer. As a matter of fact the whole outbreak 
was under control within a short time and it was then possi- 
ble to realize the tragic uncertainty of life. For had the 
men and women, whose lifeless forms encumbered the pas- 
sages, only remained in their rooms, not one need have been 
lost. 



42 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

As we returned from the holocaust and passed through 
the front hall, it seemed incredible that even then there were 
those who were still sceptical that Death, the Reaper, had 
passed with his scythe. But next day, the unfortunates in 
the Tombs prison knew of the harvest, for amongst those 
who had fallen in the mowing was one whom they called 
their angel, Mrs. Foster, the Florence Nightingale of 
prisoners. 

No lives were lost in the Armory fire, but the number of 
persons who perished in the hotel amounted to twenty. 

It is naturally impossible to lay down hard and fast 
rules for the guidance of people who are unfortunate 
enough to be caught in such fires, but broadly, the safest 
course to pursue is to avoid the vicinity of elevator shafts. 

Perhaps I may include amongst these few stories an inci- 
dent so commonplace to the fire-fighter that it was never 
even officially reported, but which should bring home to 
the outsider the daily unconsidered risks accepted by the 
former without demur. 

On this particular occasion the Captain of our com- 
pany received orders to take his line to the roof of the 
building to the north of the one on fire. The intention was 
to breach the wall of the burning structure with battering 
rams, in order to better attack the flames. As our point 
of vantage was some fifteen feet lower than the top of the 
wall to be attacked, this move was excellent strategy. We 
lowered our roof rope to the street, where it was made fast 
to the hose and hoisted up to be in readiness. In order 
to make it perfectly secure I was instructed to lash it at 
the cornice of the roof with a special knot, known to fire- 
men as a "rolling hitch," preparatory to starting the water. 
Properly to adjust the knot it was necessary for me to lie 
at full length near the edge. I had just got a turn of the 
rope round the hose, when a warning cry caused me to 
look around and I saw all hands running for the north 
coping. There was no need to tell me that the wall 
was falling out and I jumped to my feet, letting go 
of rope and hose. By great good luck I escaped becoming 



REMINISCENCES OF A FIRE-FIGHTER 43 

entangled with them or I should have been dragged to my 
death. Just as I reached my comrades, the wall crashed 
down, carrying with it the roof of our building and the 
fire instantly swept into the rooms beneath us. It then be- 
came imperative that we should reach the next house by 
hook or by crook or perish. Between us and safety was 
a "pocket/' that is to say, there was first a drop of some 
fifteen feet on to tiles, followed by a climb of the same 
height up a bare wall. This latter appeared to offer an 
insurmountable obstacle, but the fire was hard on our heels 
and desperate men reck little of seeming impossibility. One 
of our number, a giant in stature and strength, named 
Michael Byrne, raised me on his shoulders and like an 
acrobat I placed my feet in his hands, making our com- 
bined length almost the height of the wall. With a slight 
spring I succeeded in clutching the top of the coping and 
with sailor-like agility I hauled myself up. Finding a short 
ladder on the roof I passed it down, by which means the 
others escaped, though the captain, the last to leave his post 
of danger, was badly burnt about the face and hands. 

While there must always be difficulty attendant upon 
the fighting of fires, as can be imagined, those that occur 
in the winter months are by far the most physically trying. 
For instance, during the great blizzard of 1888, which 
paralyzed all traffic in New York, my company was sum- 
moned to a fire. All telegraph wires were down, and the 
alarm was brought in by a mounted messenger. On leav- 
ing the quarters we found the streets nearly impassable, and 
after an odd hundred yards our apparatus became stalled. 
We then commandeered any horses we could find, and 
pushing and pulling we worked our way through the snow- 
drifts to within three hundred yards of the outbreak, where 
the engine pole snapped in two. We left the latter where 
it was, but succeeded in securing sufficient hose to be 
serviceable, and for thirty-six hours we remained on duty 
without food or rest. 

Again it sometimes happens that the fire hydrants become 
frozen and precious time is lost in thawing them, though 



44 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

now-a-days this occurrence is becoming increasingly rare, 
owing to the improvements introduced in modern water 
supply. But in northern latitudes King Frost is the bete 
noire of the fire-fighter, and must be held indirectly respon- 
sible for some of those catastrophes which occur during his 
reign. 

In concluding these brief personal reminiscences the 
writer hopes that he has shown in a straightforward way 
what the life of the fire-fighter really is, the stirring inci- 
dents which compose it and the great possibilities therein 
for young men of enterprise and ambition. Some months 
ago the whole civilized world was stirred to its depths by 
the tragic and glorious death of the British explorer, Cap- 
tain Scott. It has been said and said rightly, that the 
world is the better for the man and his example, which will 
live through the ages and doubtless will serve to stimulate 
others, when called upon to face great crises. And the 
writer ventures to say with all humility that the fireman 
hero, though unknown to history and unsung in legend, 
meets death as bravely and dies as gloriously in the service 
of his country and his people. 



CHAPTER V 

THE FRENCH FIRE-FIGHTER 

THE history of the Paris fire brigade is of exceptional 
interest and well deserves study. Its early organization and 
manifold developments were contemporary with the prin- 
cipal change of thought and government in France, and to 
a certain degree echo the tendency of different forms of 
State control favoured in that country during the past two 
centuries. 

In the year 1716, the city of Paris organized its first 
regularly constituted fire-fighting force. This consisted, 
so it is stated, of thirty-six manual engines with a per- 
sonnel of forty to operate them. By 1785 the personnel had 
increased to three hundred, and in 1789 the first fire regu- 
lations were issued. The year 1807 saw the force placed 
under the command of the Prefect of Police and the in- 
troduction of the brass helmet, which is still worn by bri- 
gades of distinctly conservative tendencies, notably the 
London force. 

Thus, whilst originally a civil organization, in 1811 it 
was turned into a military corps, and in 1867 it was ad- 
vanced to the status of a regular regiment commanded by 
a Colonel and consisting of two battalions of five com- 
panies each. In this formation it remains today, with the 
slight difference that now each battalion numbers six com- 
panies, its official designation being Le Regiment des Sa- 
peurs Pompiers. 

By its constitution, the Paris fire brigade is something 
more than a purely fire-fighting force. In times of disturb- 
ance or war it may be called upon for military duty, though 
it is difficult to see how the fire risks of Paris could be 

45 



46 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

guarded were such a step ever taken. However, though 
under the military authorities as far as recruiting, internal 
administration, discipline, promotion and punishment are 
concerned, for fire purposes it is placed under the direct 
orders of the Prefect of Police, whose wishes regarding 
all technical matters such as scientific training, fire mo- 
bilization and equipment are paramount. Add to this that 
the City of Paris is financially responsible for the entire 
expense of the regiment and it will be seen that there are 
no less than three interested parties in the maintenance of 
the corps. 

Hence, in order to avoid confusion and friction, there is 
a joint committee formed of members from these admin- 
istrations, which settles all questions involving its common 
interests. 

The present strength of the force consists of the Colonel 
Commanding, forty-eight officers, four medical officers, 
and 1,803 non-commissioned officers and men. Of the 
latter two hundred are sergeants, three hundred and sixteen 
are corporals, the balance of 1,287 being rated as firemen. 

As a rule officers are recruited from ordinary infantry 
regiments, entering as sub-lieutenants, but they are first 
obliged to pass a medical and technical examination before 
a special commission. If successful, they then undergo 
a course of fire service instruction, and are required to 
attend all important fires as spectators in order to familiar- 
ize themselves with the actual handling of apparatus. No 
doubt it is easy to be hypercritical, but to the scientific 
fire-fighter, this appears to introduce an element of weak- 
ness. The marine engineer officer does not learn his call- 
ing by watching the efforts of others any more than the 
surgeon is qualified to operate upon a patient because he 
has had the chance of observing the greatest masters 
of the knife. It cannot be too strongly emphasized that 
fire-fighting is a science which demands of its students that 
they should understand its complexities from A to Z, and 
this can never be accomplished by any amount of theoreti- 
cal schooling. 



THE FRENCH FIRE-FIGHTER 47 

To this extent, then, it may be questioned whether the 
training of the officers serving in the Paris fire department 
is of the best for practical purposes. 

Non-commissioned officers, who, under the conscription 
law, may elect to do their service with this corps, are 
not required to pass the technical test should they wish 
to remain with the regiment. Senior non-commissioned 
officers rank as warrant officers and as a rule serve for 
twenty-five years, while corporals and firemen are limited 
to fifteen years' service, then retiring with a pension. 

The regiment is recruited principally from artisans, 
builders, laborers, mechanics and coachmen, the idea pre- 
sumably being that most of the running repairs and a cer- 
tain proportion of constructional work should be carried 
out by these men in the workshops of the brigade. Now 
this system is also open to comment. A firemen should 
be first and foremost a fireman. The last thing that should 
be made of him is a Jack of all trades. His calling is of the 
most strenuous and when not actively engaged at fires he 
has plenty to do in seeing that his apparatus is in proper 
condition. To set him to construct the body of a de- 
partmental automobile or to repair a major defect in a 
pumping engine, is to remove him from his proper sphere 
of operations, and since science has not yet solved the prob- 
lem of keeping one man in two places at the same time, the 
actual fighting units must be proportionately weakened. 

The pay of the Paris firemen, according to American 
ideas is so small as to seem ludicrous, but it should be re- 
membered that it is based upon the army scale, which in 
all European countries is framed upon as low a basis as 
possible. It commences roughly at thirty cents per diem, 
rising to forty-four cents should the fireman gain the rank 
of corporal during his three years under the conscription 
law. 

Otherwise the pay of those proposing to qualify for a 
pension ranges from $275 to $325 per annum. Free quar- 
ters are provided for the married and unmarried non-com- 
missioned officers and men, as well as lights, fuel and uni- 



FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 



forms, but no messing is included. Regular firemen get 30 
days leave annually, but conscriptionaires only 15, there 
being short leave once a week for all ranks. 

It will be seen from an examination of the following 
table that the area of Paris has increased in the proportion 
of I to 2.26 since 1841, and that the number of fires is ten 
times as many as at that date. During the same period the 
strength of the brigade has only been doubled. 



Year 


"5 

5l 


Area of 
Paris 


Popula- 
tion 


i fire- 
man for 
each 
inhabts. 


Expenditure 


Number 
of fires 


One 
fire 
every 

hours 


1841 


803 


13 26 sq. mis. 


935 260 


I 145 


1 $ 146 745 


203 


43 


1857 


889 


13 26 sq. mis. 


I 278 705 


I 438 


\ 29,349 
{$ 169 380 


298 


29 


1860 


1 208 


30 2 sq mis 


I 527 486 


I 241 


33,876 

/ $ 208 495 


445 


19 


1867 


1 4.08 


30 2 sq mis 


I 848 O7? 


I 23^ 


\ 41,699 
{$ 295 525 


690 


12 


1870 


1 600 




2 126 230 


I 2S8 


59,105 

a ^64. 62O 


878 


10 


1910 


1,803 


30 2 sq. mis. 


3,763,393 


1,532 


72,926 
f$ 721,400 


2,030 


4.20 min. 












\ 144,280 







The statistics in the last annual report show as stated 
above that the brigade attended 2,030 fires, exclusive of 
chimney fires, which numbered 1,554. They also rendered 
various additional services amounting in the aggregate to 
four hundred and forty- four calls. These last were ex- 
ceptionally numerous during that year owing to there being 
many cases in which assistance was given in connection 
with floods in Paris, work in which the corps has always 
especially distinguished itself. Over and above these 
legitimate calls, the department responded to no less than 
seven hundred and twenty-seven false alarms. 

Before going into a detailed description of the equipment 
and work of the brigade, it may not be amiss to point out 
certain factors in connection with its constitution which 
will enable the lay reader the better to appreciate the vital 



THE FRENCH FIRE-FIGHTER 49 

part this force plays in fire protection throughout the whole 
of France. Owing to the number of young men who elect 
to do their military service in its ranks and who, at the end 
of their allotted time pass out into civil life, there are all 
over France many serving in rural and provincial forces 
who have thus acquired a considerable amount of useful 
experience and whose influence must be advantageous in the 
development of local fire control. In fact, it is worthy of 
notice that the Paris fire force is regarded by the authori- 
ties as something more than a municipal institution ; rather 
is it intended to meet national requirements. Thus, as a 
rule, a squad of sailors from the French Navy is attached 
for an instructional course of six weeks, as it is felt that 
opportunity should be given to all in Government employ 
to acquaint themselves with the rudiments of this science. 
That the constitution of the Paris Fire Department is 
clumsy cannot be denied, since it is under military, police 
and municipal control ; yet the introduction of military in- 
fluence may perhaps be regarded as beneficial. A certain 
prestige attaches to any form of military control, and in 
this instance has caused this force to be looked upon as 
something in the nature of a corps d' elite. Broadly speak- 
ing, whilst a brigade, which is essentially a municipal in- 
stitution, may develop a tendency towards loss of status and 
lack of discipline in its truest form, owing to political, 
party or labour influence, yet it seems the most logical form 
of organization. But at the same time, fire control is a 
question of such serious moment that some form of govern- 
mental ascendancy in the hands of a competent central au- 
thority appears to be beneficial, if not absolutely necessary. 
At any rate, the basic structure of a modern fire depart- 
ment should be moulded along semi-military lines, for 
even as on a battlefield success or failure, victory or defeat, 
may be largely determined by the unquestioning obedience 
of all ranks to their superior officers, so when fighting 
as crafty an enemy as fire, it requires not only the skill of 
the commander but also confidence and prompt com- 
pliance with orders on the part of subordinates. This can 



50 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

only be engendered by a quasi-military training, such as 
it has ever been the ambition of New York Fire Chiefs 
to inculcate into the force under their command. There 
are, no doubt, many excellent fire brigades controlled 
wholly by municipalities, but there are also many bad and 
inefficient ones, which apparently satisfy ignorant and in- 
competent local authorities. 

Fire prevention in Paris itself is practically looked upon 
as an administrative precautionary measure initiated and 
applied by the Prefect of Police after consultation with 
the officers of the Paris fire brigade, with the municipal 
technical officers and with such other parties as have some 
concern in the matter. 

Amongst the general public, the architectural, engineer- 
ing or surveying professions, and even in governmental 
circles, little or no interest is manifested in the question. 
There is, in fact, no body either in Paris or France framed 
along the lines of the British Fire Prevention Committee, 
which is representative of technical opinion and is formed 
with the express intention of formulating precautionary 
rules. Of course, after some great disaster an irresponsible 
clamour for precautionary measures must needs arise, and 
in this particular Paris is no whit different from New 
York or London. Fanned by a sensation-loving daily 
press, blame is scattered broadcast, quite irrespective of 
equity, and the simple necessities of the situation are 
swamped by the volume of hysterical and irrational vapour- 
ings poured forth by the ignorant. And, be it added, like 
most press sensations, the matter is speedily forgotten and 
nothing permanent eventuates. Such agitation arose after 
the disaster at the Paris Charity Bazaar, after the burning 
of the Iroquois Theatre in Chicago, after the destruc- 
tion of the Exeter Theatre in England, but curiously 
enough until very recently it never resulted in any organized 
effort on the part of members of the public possessing 
technical knowledge to combine and assist the authorities 
on the subject. 

Thus for practical purposes it will be seen that the Paris 



THE FRENCH FIRE-FIGHTER 51 

Prefect of Police embodies all the initiative, which should 
be provided by a French Bureau of Fire Control. At the 
same time, however, he is possessed of two great advan- 
tages, which enable him to use his position of amiable au- 
tocracy to the fullest extent, namely the funds and the 
personnel wherewith to investigate matters, to undertake 
tests, and to enforce by means of administrative order 
such safeguards as he may see fit to demand. But 
equally, the lack of public interest in fire prevention 
places him in a most unenviable predicament, inasmuch as 
having no private scientific society or public commission 
to take the initiative and demand certain safeguards, he 
is necessarily compelled to act on his own discretion. 

Hence, were it not that Mons. Lepine, the world renowned 
ex-Chief of the Paris Police, was a man combining 
the greatest strength of character with an iron 
tenacity of will, it is no exaggeration to say that 
that city would be one of the worst equipped of the 
great modern capitals as far as fire control is concerned. In 
this connection must also be noted the names of Mons. 
Lepine's most able and competent colleagues, Colonel 
Vuilquon and Lt.-Colonel Cordier. 

For effective measures of fire protection, Paris is divided 
into twenty-four zones, the size of which is governed by the 
density of the population. In each of these zones is a fire 
station with which the fire alarms are connected. Each 
station is equipped with not less than three fire-fighting 
appliances ; a motor-propelled steam pump, long ladder and 
hose wagon. In addition, the four stations situated in 
the most populous sections are provided with an electro- 
mobile first aid machine, fitted with a small electrically- 
driven pump. These machines are intended to deal with a 
fire in its first stages, much in the same way as the chemical 
engines, common to American fire practice. The number 
of men on duty at each station consists of three non-com- 
missioned officers and twenty-six corporals and firemen. 

In the event of a call the fire station notified immediately 
sends out one or two appliances, and at the same time 



52 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

telephones the next nearest station to the scene of the out- 
break. While stations help each other in sending on ap- 
pliances to calls, they do not as a rule deplete their appara- 
tus to a dangerous degree. The pump and ladder are al- 
ways employed for the defense of the zone belonging to 
a particular station and are always the first upon the scene. 
Fifteen men form the crew of the motor engines, which also 
carry three hose reels with 1,968 feet of large hose, 525 
feet of small hose, smoke helmet and air bottles, life saving 
lines and a ventilator. These machines are of forty-five to 
sixty horse-power, and have a centrifugal pump, which 
can deliver 660 gallons a minute. Horse drawn steamers 
carry 1,575 feet of hose, short ladders and all the neces- 
sary gear for coupling up with hydrants. Whether shipped 
on motor or horse vehicles, the long ladder can be extended 
to a height of sixty-five and one-half feet. Motor traction 
is being rapidly introduced, and at the present moment 
there are in the brigade forty-nine automobiles, of which 
eight are electrically propelled. In addition, seventy-six 
horses are hired by contract on the understanding that they 
are entirely at the disposal of the department. The con- 
tractor furnishes fodder and bedding for the horses as 
well as the necessary harness and stable gear, for which 
he receives eighty-three cents per horse per diem. The 
training of these animals is good, though being of Flemish 
breed they are too heavy for the dashing work accom- 
plished by many other fire brigades. 

Paris possesses seven reservoirs which supply its fire hy- 
drants, the installation of which was commenced in 1872. 
These latter now number 7,726, and when the system is 
complete they will be about a hundred yards apart. Their 
nozzle pressure varies from fifteen to seventy- five pounds, 
according to the height of the reservoirs, and usually the 
average pressure is sufficient for working purposes. Besides 
these, there are six hundred and ninety-one hydrants be- 
longing to public buildings or private firms. The brigade 
can be called firstly, by five hundred and twenty-one alarm 
boxes situated in the public streets ; secondly, by four hun- 




FRENCH STEAM MOTOR ENGINE. 



THE FRENCH FIRE-FIGHTER 53 

dred and ninety-five private fire alarms (theatres, public 
buildings and so forth), and thirdly, by the use of the police 
or public telephones. All such alarms are of practically the 
same pattern. They consist of a square box upon a pedes- 
tal, instructions for operating being printed upon the glass 
front of the apparatus. On breaking this glass, the door 
automatically flies open, making a contact which rings a 
bell in the fire station. Contained within the box is a 
telephone transmitter for the purpose of giving the station 
the address of the fire. When the message is understood 
a buzzer is sounded to signify that fact. The disadvantage 
of this system is obvious, inasmuch as there is no check 
upon false alarms, while in moments of great emergency 
the individual is only too inclined to bungle anything in 
the nature of a telephone message. In the event of no 
message being received the appliances proceed to the neigh- 
borhood of the fire-box. 

Great attention is paid to the physique of the men form- 
ing the corps and in addition to the squad and company 
drill, which constitutes part of their military training, con- 
siderable time is devoted to gymnastics. It may be open 
to question whether the practice of what, for want 
of a better term, may be called acrobatic exercises, really 
improves the stamina in the most advantageous manner, yet 
a feat such as the following possibly inspires a certain 
amount of self-confidence. 

The apparatus employed is called the piano. It con- 
sists of a vertical timber structure, about fourteen feet high, 
comprising a number of horizontal boards separated by 
a groove, to imitate the rustic grooving in classical archi- 
tecture. The men ascend this with their fingers alone, 
"jumping" each board with their two hands simultaneously. 
These grooves, which form their only support, are but 
one and a half inches deep. Incidentally, last year the 
men of the brigade won the regimental cup for gym- 
nastics, open to the whole French army. 

Regarding a fuller account of the apparatus in use in 
the Paris fire department, it need only be said that with the 



54 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

exception of some unimportant particulars, the appliances 
are much the same as those employed in the New York 
fire department, a detailed description of which will be 
found in the chapter under that heading. It only remains 
to be emphasized in instituting comparisons that the utility 
of apparatus depends solely upon its suitability to its en- 
vironment, and the narrow streets of Paris offer an insuper- 
able obstacle to the giant appliances in use elsewhere. 

The Paris fire brigade having found that considerable 
delay was caused by the summoning of a building con- 
tractor when dangerous walls, etc., required attention, and 
that the risk thus incurred by the men during the delay 
preceding his arrival was considerable, decided to pro- 
vide itself with its own gear for dealing with dan- 
gerous structures. This consists of eight "horse traps/* two 
comprising an unit and manned by fifteen men. Those em- 
ployed in this particular squad are all carpenters or builders 
by profession and are thus supposed to be in a position to 
render first aid to any building in peril of collapse, with 
facility and expedition. Frankly, this feature in the bri- 
gade is one also of doubtful value. True, the numbers al- 
located for this particular service are not excessive, but 
in dealing with problems of a similar nature in New 
York the author has found that in such cases of emergency 
it was more satisfactory to count upon the services of build- 
ing contractors of known standing than to rely upon a small 
subdivision of the fire corps itself, which, from the nature 
of the case, cannot possibly possess the scientific and archi- 
tectural skill necessary to cope with such a vast and in- 
tricate question as the shoring up of a wall in momentary 
danger of collapse. Wrecking crews are employed in the 
New York fire department, but their duties are very much 
narrower than those of their French colleagues. 

An account of a fire in Paris, drawn from the report of 
the British Fire Prevention Committee's Journal, may not 
be without interest to readers, lay and professional alike. 

The site of the outbreak was a linoleum factory situated 
in the Rue de Vouille, a long, narrow street approached by 



THE FRENCH FIRE-FIGHTER 



55 



thoroughfares at either end, and backed on one side by tene- 
ment buildings and on the other by a railway. Obviously 
the chief risk was that the fire might spread to the tene- 
ments, and hence the main attack had to be made from 
either end. Seven motor pumps were brought into opera- 
tion, supplying 13 jets, while two more were worked from 
a hydrant. The number of officers and men employed num- 
bered 135. It only remains to be said that the disposition 
of the apparatus as evidenced by the plan reproduced be- 
low was admirable, the officers in charge having clearly and 
.quickly grasped the danger zone, and it is satisfactory to 
note that the blaze was under control within 90 minutes of 
the arrival of the first engine upon the scene. 

LINOLEUM FACTORY FIRE 

PARIS FRANCE 1 




Owing to the part played by the Prefect of Police in the 
control of the Paris fire brigade it is natural that some 
form of cooperation should exist between the two depart- 
ments. In fact it is not too much to say that herein lies 
a connection of considerable value. For ordinary small 
fires the mobilizing of the police necessary to keep the 
ground is dealt with by the provisional police superinten- 
dent in whose area the fire occurs and he can also draw 
assistance from neighboring divisions. In the case of large 



56 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

fires, police headquarters sends immediate aid from its 
reserves, including if necessary republican guards and 
strong cyclist sections. The principle of having a number 
of police ready for immediate turnout on bicycles to any 
point in the city is both expeditious and advantageous and 
merits more than passing attention from the authorities 
of every large municipality. Upon cooperation between 
the police and fire departments much depends, and it is only 
by constantly playing into each other's hands that the for- 
mer can rightly judge how far away a crowd must be kept 
for their own safety's sake, and in order that the efforts 
of the firemen may be unhindered by the ill-judged incur- 
sions of the curious. 

For fire protection along the front of the river Seine 
there is a special organization known as the Brigade Flu- 
viale or River Police. This consists of a chief inspector, 
four assistants, and thirty-six policemen, twelve of whom 
are pilots and mechanics. Not only does this force serve 
as auxiliary to the fire department, but it is trained for 
emergency work in times of flood as well as acting as police 
in the usually accepted sense of the word. Needless to 
say, owing to the tortuous narrowness of the Seine, the 
apparatus in use is small, but it is serviceable enough for 
its purpose, and the men in the corps are in addition expert 
life savers of drowning persons. 

It is a curious anomaly of this command that its hours 
of duty are only from 7 a. m. till 10 p. m., and hence it is 
practically unavailable for any night emergency. The au- 
thorities, who are responsible for this incongruous state 
of affairs, must evidently possess a touching confidence in 
the designs of le bon Dieu, as, to the ordinary ideas of 
the fire-fighter, the hours of most danger are precisely those 
when, it is to be supposed, the officers and men of the Bri- 
gade Fluviale are wrapped in slumber. 

Salvage work in Paris is carried on by a distinct section 
of the fire department, and is in no way reliant upon any 
outside or independent assistance. This whole question 
of the interdependence of the fire department upon a 




FRENCH "TUBN OUT." 

PETROL MOTOR PUMP AND PETROL MOTOR LORRIES. 



THE FRENCH FIRE-FIGHTER 57 

private salvage corps, and vice versa, receives careful con- 
sideration in another section of this volume, but none the 
less it may .be broadly stated that there are advantages at- 
taching to an undivided control of both these departments, 
and since Paris was the first to adopt such a measure a 
short account of its equipment for that purpose may not 
be without interest. 

The Paris salvage service commenced operations in 1904 
and is intended to limit, as far as possible, the damage 
caused by water or fire to all kinds of property. Since 
salvage duties form part of the ordinary duties of the 
brigade, instruction in this special branch is given to all 
ranks. Special appliances for the purpose are placed in 
six stations, each of which has a certain number of zones 
to protect, but the appliances of one area may be sent to 
another according to the severity of the fire. Besides this, 
every one of the twenty-four motor apparatuses of the de- 
partment carries some salvage gear, so that a proportion 
of this work can be accomplished without the presence 
of the special cars. 

Each salvage car is manned by one non-commissioned 
officer, two corporals, four firemen and a driver. On ar- 
rival at a fire the man in charge of the appliance takes his 
orders from the senior officer of the fire-fighting force, 
who employs his services as he thinks best. Thus, in case 
of emergency, the men of the salvage corps can assist in 
the fire work or the men employed in the fire work can 
assist in the salvage. The salvage units comprise six motor 
cars with a wide radius of action, each carrying a crew 
of eight men, the whole being under the charge of a super- 
ior officer and each carrying no less than fifty ordinary 
covers, fifteen special covers, one special scaling ladder, one 
step ladder, one set of draining gear, and a large supply of 
mops, brooms, swabs, sponges, trays, small covers, ropes, 
lamps, axes, carpenter's tools, bags of sawdust, telephone 
fittings and so on. There is also a reserve car, and in 
addition to this every motor pump carries two covers and 
other minor salvage gear. 



58 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

Towards this comprehensive service the insurance com- 
panies pay $40,000 per annum, and in addition nominate 
two of their officials to do service if called upon in a tech- 
nical or consultative capacity. 

Probably the Paris fire department is the only one in the 
world which can bring so effective a plant to the seat of 
operations so .quickly and with so little delay, and broadly 
speaking it is without doubt an advantage to have at hand 
so large and competent a force upon which to draw at 
a moment's notice. The personnel of both fire brigades 
and salvage corps is, after all, only human and it is im- 
possible always to avoid some friction between the two 
bodies, when each has a different object in view and is 
naturally anxious to look after the best interests of their 
respective paymasters. It is in this direction that Paris 
benefits. 

Generally speaking the Parisian theatres can scarcely be 
said to make any special claim for excellence in either archi- 
tectural construction or equipment. Eut in this respect 
they differ little from those of other countries, which 
except in rare cases seldom come up to the stand- 
ard of modern requirements. In the case of Paris, 
the majority of the buildings are old and the 
proprietors have vested interests, necessarily render- 
ing any action on the part of the public author- 
ities a difficult and thankless undertaking. Nevertheless, 
a systematic effort may be observed on all sides to amel- 
iorate the dangerous features in these old buildings and to 
ensure safety of the audiences -as far as is practicable under 
existing conditions. The primary features of the protec- 
tive system observed in Paris appear to be very similar 
to those in vogue in New York and consist in the installa- 
tion of a fire-resisting curtain, large ventilator openings, 
absence of rubbish, the non-inflammable treatment of scen- 
ery, constant inspection and lastly the organization of "fire- 
watches," composed of regular firemen, who shortly before 
every performance make a round and test the fire ap- 
pliances, remaining until the conclusion of the entertain- 



THE FRENCH FIRE-FIGHTER 59 

ment, when the appliances are once more put under trial. 
Also, as in New York, plans for new theatres are inspected 
and reported upon by the fire department. 

All of this is most satisfactory and is evidence that the 
French authorities are keenly aware of the terrible fire 
risks in theatres where even a false alarm may result in 
a hideous and unnecessary loss of life. But. with the Na- 
tional Opera House of Paris another tale has to be told, 
and it is literally amazing that its equipment and con- 
struction should be such as to make even the most unin- 
structed in the peril of fire pause and hesitate. 

Granted that the foundations of this historic pile were 
laid as far back as 1863, yet owing to the Franco-Prussian 
war the building was not really completed till some twelve 
years later, the opening taking place in 1875. There has 
always been an idea that buildings of a period antecedent 
to our own day of rush and hurry were more substantial 
and of better construction than the jerry built shacks of the 
modern real estate agent, who hides the worthlessness of 
his wares under liberal coatings of gilt and gingerbread. 
Yet, judging from the Paris Opera House, the architects 
concerned in its erection must have counted fire as one 
of the negligible happenings of fate. No less a sum than 
$7>5oo,ooo was lavished upon the building, but apparently 
the imagination of the gentlemen responsible for its erec- 
tion only carried them as far as architectural magnificence, 
and they were blind as to such matters of minor importance 
as the safety of audience and artists. But again perhaps 
it is too much to expect that an architect of the sixties 
in the last century should have realized that "panic bolts" 
to doors, rounded corners, and continuous handrails 
formed safeguards for human life. One might legitimately 
expect, however, that such precautions would have pre- 
sented themselves to the minds of the present day directors. 

To quote from the report of the British Fire Prevention 
Committee issued after their visit to Paris, "The Opera 
House stage is generally considered to be one of the most 
dangerous, if not the most dangerous, in Europe. It is 



60 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

mainly of wood construction, supported in parts by un- 
protected cast iron columns. It is a mass of old-fashioned 
windlasses, pulley gear and a veritable forest of rope. 
Little can be said, beyond that it should be entirely gutted 
as was the case with the Royal Opera House, Covent Gar- 
den, and that a modern stage should be fitted in its place. 
The safeguards, however carefully devised, are discounted 
by the highly inflammable and complex character of the 
stage equipment." 

It must be clearly understood that this excerpt is given 
with no idea of disparaging one of the great art centres 
of the modern world, but only with the object of bringing 
home to the ordinary citizen the fact that with all the his- 
tory of fire disaster behind them for their guidance those 
responsible for the safety of the public, unintentionally, no 
doubt, even today regard the subject apparently as not one 
of serious import ! ! ! Further comment is surely needless. 
Suffice it to say that judging from official reports concern- 
ing the fire equipment of the Paris Opera House, it is ludi- 
crous, were it not possessed of its tragic side. Its struc- 
tural height is nominally 13 stories, the fire protection of 
which is served by three mains, the high pressure being nat- 
urally for the protection of the upper part of the building. 
Considering that the maximum pressure off the mains is 
only 70 pounds, it is difficult to see how even the tenth story 
could be protected, let alone the thirteenth. 

The subject of fire protection in department stores on the 
other hand, has for some time past been receiving the care- 
ful consideration of the Paris Fire Bureau, and in this con- 
nection the "modus operandi" of the great Bon Marche 
stores offers an example worthy of imitation by many sim- 
ilar establishments in big American towns. This firm 
maintains a private fire brigade of 41 men, who do nothing 
else except watch and fire duty. One-third of this number 
sleep on the premises, while to assist them is a special staff 
of 1 8 night watchmen. A portion of the regular sales staff 
also is instructed in fire duties, being especially trained to 
deal with customers and others in the case of a fire panic. 



THE FRENCH FIRE-FIGHTER 61 

The store possesses its own water supply and sprinklers are 
fitted in all parts of the building considered to be particu- 
larly dangerous. Great care is also taken over the collec- 
tion of waste paper and rubbish generally. It is gathered 
into sacks and removed to a fire resisting room in the base- 
ment, which is lighted from without, is supplied with 
sprinklers and possesses a self-closing iron door. In addi- 
tion, all packing material is stored in a special apartment, 
and is only issued as required. The elevator shafts are 
taken above the roof, the upper part of the shaft being 
glazed with thin glass, the idea being that in the event of 
fire the heat and smoke should go well clear of the building. 
Finally smoke helmets are kept ready for the slightest emer- 
gency, each being fitted with a portable electric bulb and a 
supply of oxygen sufficient to last 90 minutes. 

At different periods during the last century, notably in 
1851 and 1858, efforts were made by the Government of 
the time to obtain some form of provincial fire service on 
national lines, whereby the responsibility of the different 
local authorities might be centralized. These efforts met 
with scant success, although a number of Communes 
formed fire brigades as sections of the national civic guard. 
The first modern decree on the organization of French fire 
brigades was signed by Marshal MacMahon in 1875, and 
comprised 35 articles setting out the requirements and con- 
ditions of service in great detail. Of course it was in itself 
only applicable to the day of the manual engine, but even 
now it can well rank as a model to all countries as a code 
which nationalizes a necessary service, which is all too eas- 
ily allowed to remain unrecognized where the independence 
of local authorities has become a veritable fetish regardless 
of the best interests of the community. 

The following are some of the features of the decree of 
November, 1903, which today governs the formation of 
Communal fire brigades in France and marks a stage in the 
development of the old decree of '75. Fire Brigades are 
primarily formed to do fire service, but may also be called 
upon to assist in case of any serious accident or catastrophe. 



62 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

If they so desire, and with the permission of the Home 
Secretary, they may be armed, but under those circum- 
stances they are not allowed to carry their rifles outside the 
limits of their own district. Fire brigades can only be 
formed with the sanction of the President of the Depart- 
ment, after proof has been given that sufficient appliances 
exist for the brigade to man, and that means are available 
for the purchase of uniforms and the general upkeep of 
the force in an efficient condition for a period of at least 
15 years. 

The general organization is along strictly military lines, 
men being enlisted of their own free will for a period of 
not less than five years. Officers are appointed by the 
President of the Republic on the advice of the Prefect of 
the District or the Mayor of the Commune. Their rank 
is ex-officio military. 

But the chief point in this connection is the effort which 
has been made by the various provincial fire departments 
towards a common federation of all brigades, the standard- 
ization, so to say, of the system as a whole. The objects 
of this federation are to improve the French fire service 
generally, conduct assemblies, competitions and exhibitions 
with a view to encouraging the ambition of various local 
units and to the creation of a species of local esprit de corps. 
Incidentally also, comprised in the scheme is a plan for 
benefiting those who are injured in the course of duty and of 
assisting their wives, widows, or families. At the present 
time this federation consists of over 104,000 members and 
there is no reason why, if managed along normal lines and 
those of least resistance, i. e., in conjunction with the gov- 
ernmental authorities, this Federation might not prove of 
inestimable benefit to all concerned. 

The competitions conducted are of peculiar value, as they 
do not consist of events which are merely a matter of ath- 
letic celerity, but are rather founded upon a semi-scientific 
basis. By this means successful brigades may be regarded 
as not only occupying the position of merit allotted to them 
in any particular competition, but as embodying thereby 



THE FRENCH FIRE-FIGHTER 63 

their actual standing in the ranks of the provincial fire de- 
partment in France as a whole. There are also theoretical 
examinations for officers, which are taken separately and 
of a graduated character, there being five groups, A to E, 
admission to the higher group having to be preceded by the 
obtaining of honours in the next lower group. 

In fact, it is not too much to say that this Federation, 
although in need of modernization as regards some of its 
details, is generally beneficial in the highest degree to the 
French provincial fire service, and by engendering enthusi- 
asm and a spirit of emulation has done much to advance 
the cause of fire-fighting in that country. Monsieur Guis- 
net, its President, has admittedly a difficult body to control. 
Political influences and administrative problems of impor- 
tance have to be constantly overcome and adjusted with that 
diplomacy which alone can bring success to any organiza- 
tion of such magnitude. And, though, from time to time 
setbacks occur and attempts are made to discredit the work 
accomplished, the fact remains that the very genesis of such 
a union is a hopeful presage for the future. Were it pos- 
sible to train the members of all fire departments in a coun- 
try along national lines in a similar manner to that in which 
the apparatus of various cities in the United States has 
been standardized, then without a doubt a great step would 
have been taken forward in the science of Fire Control. 

Admittedly, of course, in a vast country like the United 
States, such a scheme is impossible of realization, but in 
smaller areas, such as England and other European coun- 
tries, the idea would certainly appear to merit consideration. 



CHAPTER VI 

FIRE-FIGHTING IN GERMANY 

As might be expected by those conversant with Teuton 
thoroughness, the question of fire control in Germany has 
received the most careful consideration on the part of the 
authorities from the Emperor and Empress downwards. 
This has resulted in the centralization of all executive 
authority, which in itself possesses many advantages. In 
Berlin, all matters relating to building construction, factory 
inspection, the storage of inflammable material and other 
details of a similar nature are under the supervision of 
the Berlin Royal Police, with which the Fire Brigade is 
incorporated. The advantages of this system are obvious. 
Thus a factory inspector, a superior officer of the fire 
department, a superior officer of the sanitary police and 
the police building surveyor frequently work together, and 
confusion as to responsibility or the overlapping of various 
forms of control is eliminated. 

Now, admittedly, this system is excellent, but since pre- 
vention is better than cure, great efforts are made to instil 
into the minds of children at an early age the necessity of 
exercising great care in the use of matches, lamps, candles 
and open lights. Towards this end special courses are ar- 
ranged in the public schools, whereby boys and girls are 
taught by fable, picture or simple instruction the dangers 
inseparable from imprudence in the use of the above men- 
tioned articles. These simple educational methods are hav- 
ing a most marked effect on the whole of the coming gen- 
eration in Germany and fatalities from burns amongst 
young people have decreased, while their parents also have 

64 



FIRE-FIGHTING IN GERMANY 65 

grown more cautious. Naturally the full results of this 
teaching will not be felt for another ten years, when its 
effect upon the incidence of fires should become marked. 

Building construction in Germany generally is of a solid 
and substantial nature, both as regards business and resi- 
dential premises. The interiors, being subject to the inspec- 
tion of the local building control department, risks such as 
those commonly met with in tenement houses are avoided. 

The centralization of fire control has also had important 
results as regards the high standard of safety existing in 
most German theatres. This supervision is responsible 
for the introduction of the specially heavy fire curtain in 
general use, and for the installation of a system of stage 
lighting, which does away with the more dangerous fea- 
tures of the older methods. In this connection it may be 
noted that the theatre owners find the police restrictions in 
no way irksome, even though that most unpopular official 
the "Censor" is also a member of the department. 

One final feature of the Prussian brigades merits atten- 
tion. The duty for firemen is so arranged that after forty- 
eight hours at the fire-station, they are entitled to twenty- 
four hours rest at home. During their period on watch 
starting at 8 in the morning, they are actively employed till 
10:30 P. M., when, unless summoned to a fire, they may 
sleep till 6 A. M. On that day they are relieved from 2 p. M. 
till 4 p. M. in order that they may take part in the night 
watch without undue fatigue. There are no married or 
single permanent quarters for the men at the stations, this 
practice being similar to that in vogue in New York. As 
regards the merits or otherwise of this system, much may 
be written and the subject is fully dealt with in a later 
chapter. 

From this brief resume it will be gathered that German 
fire control is planned on severely official lines, which to 
some degree no doubt stifles initiative on the part of the 
individual, but at the same time makes for that mechanical 
precision which is responsible for the fire risks being the 
lowest in the world. 



66 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

The Berlin fire brigade was organized in 1851 and mod- 
ernized in 1875, when the system of fire-fighting units was 
first brought into operation. Each unit comprised a trap, 
a manual and a water tank. Such was the organization 
at that time that, within ten minutes of a fire being reported, 
it was nominally possible to obtain the assistance of such 
an unit at any point throughout the city. As the brigade 
stands today it consists of a headquarters and five di- 
visions, each division controlling five units. This force has 
to protect roughly an area of 15,000 acres with 27,800 
buildings and a population of 2,123,000 souls. The officers 
of the department consist of one chief, two deputy chiefs, 
five divisional officers, fifteen assistant divisional officers in 
charge of "units' ' and two adjutants. By way of com- 
parison Berlin has 25 officers to a brigade of 1,040 of all 
ranks, Vienna 7 to 468, Hamburg 12 to 512, London 
5 to 1,400, and New York 63 to 4,996. Berlin authori- 
ties state that it should be borne in mind that it is not only 
the superior officer's management of the brigade and his 
greater technical education, but his general influence over 
the policy of fire prevention, his skilled assistance in the 
supervision and inspection of buildings, and the prestige 
which is conferred thereby upon fire control, which gives 
the department the standing it deserves as a highly im- 
portant economic feature in municipal and national life. 

Such recognition from so highly organized a body as 
the Berlin Municipality makes the writer hopeful that be- 
fore long the status of the genus fireman will cease to be 
regarded as less important than that of the soldier or the 
sailor in the service of his country. 

The policy of the Berlin fire department, as might be 
expected, has been towards the adoption of mechanical 
means of transport, and at the present moment most of the 
units are equipped with automobile appliances. Chief 
amongst these may be noticed a number of eighty-foot ex- 
tension ladders, chemical engines, and steam pumps. There 
are also electrically propelled break-down cars for dealing 
with dangerous structures. The loose gear carried is of the 



FIRE-FIGHTING IN GERMANY 67 

most extensive character, the men having special instruction 
in the use of smoke helmets, their familiarity in the em- 
ployment of the same being second to none in the. world. 
A feature is made of what may be termed "fire" tactics, 
or the topography of districts in the municipal area, en- 
abling officers and men to fight fires to the best advantage. 
To this end a hand book is supplied, specially printed in 
order to be visible in a bad light, giving a tabular list of 
every thoroughfare and every hydrant or source of water 
supply in the city. But this compendium goes a step fur- 
ther, and in respect to particularly dangerous risks shows 
the most advantageous position to be occupied by individual 
engines. In the event of the apparatus designated being at 
work elsewhere, its place is taken by its relief. 

Great attention is accorded to questions of fire prevention 
by the officers of the brigade, and systematic inspections 
are favoured, which are carried out by the brigade indepen- 
dently of, or in conjunction with, the Building Act Depart- 
ment, Factories Department or other sections of the police 
administration. The amount of inspection work done by 
the superior officers of the brigade in the last few years 
has been enormous, but its effect has also been very con- 
siderable in reducing the causes of fires. This supervision 
includes theatres and public buildings, factories, ware- 
houses, department stores, hospitals, lunatic asylums and 
all buildings subject to special risks, such as electrical 
power houses and tanks for the storage of petrol and other 
explosives. 

Those desiring to join the corps as officers must satisfy 
the authorities that they are physically sound, financially 
stable and possessed of first-class higher school certificates 
and military papers. They are then eligible to become 
ensigns, but in order to obtain commissions as officers they 
then must satisfy the authorities that they have passed the 
final examination as architects or civil engineers at a royal 
technical college, or taken the scientific courses at either 
a naval or a military engineering academy. Further, they 
must have been either commissioned officers in the army or 



68 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

navy, or at least hold rank in the reserve. In addition, they 
are required to place their financial position clearly before 
the Chief Officer, to undertake not to marry without the 
Chief's consent until they have been in the brigade at 
least one year, and to show that they have not only satis- 
factorily passed the ensign's course in the Berlin brigade, 
but also that of an ensign in at least one other brigade. 
Candidates must also possess a thorough grounding in 
electrical work and have a knowledge of the principles at- 
tending first aid. Finally they must be of good family. 

From these details it will be seen that officers in the great 
German fire brigades must be men of exceptional ability, 
in fact, that the profession is practically closed except to 
those who, holding commissions in the army or navy 
reserve, are in private life architects or civil engineers, or 
belong to the engineering or artillery branches of the army 
or to the torpedo or gunnery branches of the navy. It 
seems superfluous to state that such credentials imply the 
acme of hard work and the height ot scientific efficiency, 
yet the writer must be forgiven for hazarding the statement 
that the man trained in the university of hard knocks and 
who has gained his advancement from the ranks by shown 
ability to meet the emergencies of his calling, is in every 
way his equal for all practical purposes. The chief princi- 
ples employed in fighting fires may be briefly summarized 
thus: Fight the flames at close quarters; always have a 
man in reserve on each branch armed with a life line and an 
axe for emergencies, and make use of all apparatus obtain- 
able irrespective of immediate necessity. Comment upon 
these tactics is deferred till later in this article. It is, 
however, strictly enjoined that senior officers should not 
expose themselves to any unnecessary danger and should 
not under any circumstances penetrate to the heart of a fire 
or work inside buildings in danger of collapse. 

There is a tendency observable to allow unimportant 
values to be destroyed if it is considered that their attack 
by water appears likely to cause greater damage than their 
worth justifies. Thus a roof or the contents of an attic, 



FIRE-FIGHTING IN GERMANY 69 

if situated in a high-class building, are generally allowed to 
burn out so that the floors below may not be injured by 
water. The rule of the brigade is to work upwards rather 
than downwards and a branch is rarely applied to a fire 
from surrounding elevated positions. 

Regardless of the utility and great convenience of me- 
chanically operated extension ladders, the brigade continues 
to give the closest attention to hook ladder and life line 
work. Every foreman and fireman must be thoroughly 
efficient in the operation of these two appliances, failing 
which he is compulsorily retired, and every fireman drills 
once a week at least with this apparatus during the whole 
period of his service. 

Berlin possesses nearly seven hundred fire alarms, of 
which two hundred are public street alarms, directions 
thereto being fixed on every lamp-post, pillar-box and li- 
censed kiosk adjacent to a crossing. 

The regulations governing the department stores of 
Berlin are peculiarly comprehensive with the result that 
they are probably the best safeguarded in the world. 
Each shop of any magnitude has its private fire brigade, 
the watch room of which is centrally situated, and appara- 
tus for any emergency is kept in constant readiness. Em- 
ployees are specially trained as to the alarms, bell signals, 
appliances and those quarters to which they must proceed in 
the event of an alarm. Such signals are, (a) Quarters; (b) 
Return to Duty; (c) Clear Premises. The first signal can 
be "pulled" at any one of the private alarm points in the 
building; the second and third by a member of the private 
fire brigade alone, and then only from the watch room. 
Upon the first call sounding, those attached to the fire sec- 
tion proceed to the scene of the outbreak, which is marked 
upon a specially illuminated location chart, while those 
not similarly engaged are expected to remain at their posts 
under pain of instant dismissal. By this method, any- 
thing in the nature of a panic amongst customers is im- 
mediately checked. At the third call the personnel not 
at quarters is expected to pilot the clientele into the 



70 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

open by exits arranged according to departments. Mean- 
time all wagons and carriages have been removed from 
the courtyards, areas and so forth by a special staff of 
porters, who likewise act upon prearranged signals. As 
on board ship, test alarms are frequently made to familiar- 
ize both staff and visitors with the mode of clearance, and 
in this connection it is of interest to note that in the event 
of what a police officer may deem to be the overcrowding 
of any store he has the power of stopping the entrance 
thereto, until such time as the congestion has ceased. 

Theatre fire risks in Berlin are inconsiderable, thanks to 
the modernity of the majority of these structures, coupled 
with the stringency of the building regulations. The nat- 
ural tendency to roominess observable in all public con- 
struction in Germany has also beneficially influenced the 
internal designs of places of amusement from a fire point 
of view. 

In Berlin proper there are thirty- four theatres, music 
halls and circus buildings. The daily fire watches number 
thirty-six foremen and one hundred and nine men, about 
one-sixth of the brigade, or a full half of the men off duty, 
for it must be explained that the men forming this con- 
tingent are voluntarily recruited from those who, in their 
spare time, wish to make extra pay. It must, however, 
be borne in mind that this special service is compulsory 
as regards the brigade, the means of its supply being left 
to the Chief of the department. 

The problems connected with safety in stage illumina- 
tion appear to have been solved in a satisfactory manner. 
Effects of flames and fire are obtained by concentrating 
electric lights of considerable power and of the required 
colours upon pieces of silk which are suspended by one end 
and blown into position with a fluttering movement by elec- 
tric fans and bellows. A duplication of the lighting system 
is also provided in most theatres, this being obviously of 
extreme value in cases of emergency, when otherwise the 
building would be plunged in darkness. 

An example of excellence in. theatre construction is 



FIRE-FIGHTING IN GERMANY 71 

afforded by the Schiller theatre, with seating accommo- 
dation for 1,460 persons, which it is estimated can be 
emptied in less than one minute. There is only one gallery 
of small size, the rest of the house being given over to what 
corresponds to stalls and pit in European theatres, or in 
American phraseology, "orchestra chairs." 

To understand the situation of the fire service in Ham- 
burg, it is necessary to appreciate that this is a city, which 
in the main is a port with enormous warehouse values, 
both within the dutiable area and in the "free port"; 
that it further has a large city or office district, a retail 
business section and finally extensive residential suburbs 
of varying descriptions. The business portion of the city 
is intersected by a large number of waterways, which, 
whilst providing the most valuable auxiliary of an ample 
and accessible water supply in some of the more dangerous 
districts, at the same time create considerable difficulty for 
intercommunication and the concentration of the brigade 
in force. Roughly, the population of Hamburg amounts 
to 900,000, the number of buildings approximating 
31,000. 

The main fire risk is naturally centred in the warehouse 
area and more especially in the "free port," where, owing 
to the shortsightedness of those responsible to the harbour 
board for the dock equipment, constructed in the early 
eighties of the last century, buildings were erected with 
all vertical and horizontal metal supports entirely unpro- 
tected and in many cases formed of light lattice work 
girders, which are peculiarly liable to collapse when sub- 
jected to great heat. 

In the newer warehouses all this has been remedied and 
the improvements introduced include the use of fire re- 
sisting materials to protect supports, the substitution of 
ordinary flooring by reinforced concrete laid at such an 
angle as to insure the speedy and easy drainage of water 
into scuppers, thus avoiding unnecessary damage therefrom 
in the event of fire, and the absolute insulation of all ele- 
vator shafts and staircases from the rest of the building. 



72 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

As to the development of the fire department, its history 
is short considering the lesson that should have been learned 
from the destructive conflagration of 1842. Not until 
1869 was a professional brigade formed, and then it con- 
sisted only of the ridiculously inadequate number of forty- 
eight men under a chief officer. This in turn was assisted 
by twelve hundred volunteers, the apparatus at their joint 
command comprising four steam fire pumps and one hun- 
dred and nine manuals. In 1878 the force was reconsti- 
tuted and today it consists of a chief officer, twelve as- 
sistants, six warrant officers, forty-three foremen, twenty- 
nine engineers and four hundred and twenty-two firemen, 
or, together with supplementary staff such as telegraphists 
and electricians, a total of nearly five hundred and fifty 
men. There are ten fire stations and, as in Berlin, the 
hours of duty are forty-eight on to twenty- four off. Some 
idea of the brigade's activity may be gleaned from the 
fact that on the yearly average it attends seventy fires of 
first importance and one thousand of lesser importance, 
while false alarms total the huge number of nearly five 
hundred. It would be of interest to know to what the 
latter remarkable figure is attributable. 

The equipment of the brigade is excellent. Amongst 
other apparatus may be noticed twenty-five steam fire 
pumps, seven chemical engines, ten eighty- foot extension 
ladders and no less than seventeen large fire floats. 

Considering the strength of its personnel, the area of the 
city and the property to be protected, it is no exaggeration 
to state that few fire brigades can show so large a propor- 
tion of mechanically equipped apparatus, which, in itself, 
speaks volumes for the enterprise of the responsible authori- 
ties. The administration of the force is in the hands of 
a special civic commission, formed on comparatively inde- 
pendent lines and representing the various interests at 
stake, both financial and technical. It consists of a Senator 
who acts as Chairman, a lawyer from the Senate, three 
municipal councillors, two municipal fire insurance officials, 
and an official from the city's water works. The cost of 



FIRE-FIGHTING IN GERMANY 73 

the brigade amounts annually to $450,000, of which $240,- 
ooo is raised by a special rate upon house property, $50,000 
by stamp duties on fire insurance policies, while the re- 
mainder is provided by the authorities out of their general 
funds. 

An interesting feature is the position occupied by the 
chimney sweep, that humble individual whose services sel- 
dom receive recognition of any sort from the community, 
yet upon whose thoroughness depends the safety of property 
and persons untold. In Hamburg the genus sweep is under 
fire brigade control, and no one can start in that business 
without first passing a stringent examination. It is com- 
pulsory to have all chimneys cleaned at regular intervals, 
and in the event of negligence, both sweep and proprietor 
of the premises at fault are heavily fined. 

Generally, as regards fire risks, the Hamburg municipal- 
ity has framed special by-laws along much the same lines as 
those existing in Berlin, and the protection thus afforded 
is both ample and adequate. 

Though the town of Hanover is small, its popula- 
tion amounting only to 272,000, anyone visiting its 
brigade cannot but be struck by the fact that it 
is no ordinary organization, but rather one of exceptional 
excellence and which on that account can afford to be 
compared with any in Europe. Needless to say, any great 
expenditure on apparatus cannot be expected from such 
a small community, but the district covered possesses a 
dangerous manufacturing section and includes some fac- 
tories of great size. Hence, to meet the needs of the situa- 
tion it has been necessary to provide a department which, if 
confined to its regular duties, would scarcely find sufficient 
employment. But an economical solution of the problem 
was found by according to the brigade and its officers 
additional municipal functions other than those of the fire 
service, and to this end both officers and men have been 
trained for other special duties. At the same time it was 
wisely determined that the apparatus, though limited in 
quantity should be the best obtainable in quality, and that 



74 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

the salaries of all concerned should be upon as liberal a 
scale as possible. 

Thus, the brigade acts as the ambulance department of 
Hanover, in itself a work of considerable utility. Unlike 
other departments, which possess a first-aid section, in this 
case the corps undertakes the transport of infectious cases 
and the like to hospital, which though open naturally to 
serious objection on account of the possibility of the spread 
of disease through this agency, is none the less a service 
that in a small town can be carried on with the minimum 
of risk, when every man concerned is under the closest 
medical supervision. In addition, the chief officer of this 
fire department is also, ipso facto, the administrative head 
of the municipal scavenging and dust destructor service, 
which incidentally has considerable bearing upon fire pre- 
vention. Though no doubt a certain sympathy must be 
felt for scientific fire-fighters, who are expected to employ 
a portion of their time in such uncongenial occupations as 
taking diphtheria patients to hospital or acting as scaven- 
gers, yet as the municipality urge, they can only afford to 
pay for a brigade in which the rank and file can be other- 
wise employed, and it would seem better to have a fire force 
at even that price than possess none at all. And it must also 
be remembered that Germany is a free country and that 
there is no compulsion to serve, at any rate in the Hanover 
fire department. 

The present constitution of the brigade is as follows: 
four superior officers, an inspector of telegraphs, a superin- 
tendent of ambulance work, seventeen foremen, eighty-six 
firemen, six telegraph clerks, and twelve coachmen, or one 
hundred and twenty-seven of all ranks. There are three 
fire stations and approximately 13,800 buildings to be pro- 
tected. The principal equipment consists of three steam 
motor-propelled pumps, three eighty- foot extension lad- 
ders, four motor chemical engines and seven traps. These 
latter are extremely useful appliances, carrying hook and 
scaling ladders, a quantity of hose, life lines and all those 
minor appliances that at fires often spell so much at the 



FIRE-FIGHTING IN GERMANY 75 

commencement of an outbreak. Three motor ambulances 
also merit mention, and all municipal telegraphy and elec- 
tric wiring for bell and signal purposes being under the 
brigade's control, there are special motor trolleys for that 
branch of the department. The corps is equipped with 
forty-five street alarm call boxes in public thoroughfares, 
and twenty-two in private or municipal buildings. On the 
average, the annual number of fires attended amounts to 
two hundred and eighty-two, of which twenty-one rank as 
of major importance, twenty-eight are medium and seventy- 
eight are chimney fires. The ambulance section roughly 
answers 4,500 calls per annum of which no less than six 
hundred may be docketed as infectious. Hence it speaks 
volumes for the medical precautions adopted that rarely, if 
ever, a fireman is temporarily incapacitated or permanently 
injured from this duty. 

As indicated, though a mere enumeration of personnel 
scarcely serves to emphasize sufficiently the point, this small 
force is no ordinary one and under its former fire chief, 
Herr Reichel, now in command in Berlin, it can lay claim 
to having taken the initiative in motor traction as applied 
to fire engines, certainly in Germany, if not in the entire 
world. 

Today there would be nothing in a fire brigade ordering 
self-propelled appliances, rather would they be remarkable 
if they did not. But it is worthy of more than passing 
comment that as long ago as 1901, Herr Reichel was able 
to exhibit at the Berlin International Fire Exhibition, a 
complete fire service unit for a district station, comprising 
a motor steam fire engine, an automobile trap, and a self- 
propelled chemical engine, which, working as an unit, time 
has proved to be eminently economical. The unit in ques- 
tion, after an experimental trial of three months, entered 
the regular service of the Hanover force and is still doing 
excellent work even today. 

As regards water supply this is ample, the pressure off 
the mains averaging forty-five pounds. 

Before closing the brief account of this most enterpris- 



76 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

ing small brigade a few words must be added con- 
cerning the actual methods employed in the ambulance 
service. On an alarm sounding an ambulance starts away 
at once in charge of a coachman and four firemen. In 
infectious cases the men have instructions to handle the 
sufferer as little as possible, and at the end of the journey 
both attendants and coach are thoroughly fumigated. This 
system is also used for the removal of dangerous persons 
and lunatics, thus constituting a valuable auxiliary to the 
local police, hospitals, and lunatic asylums. Finally, this 
branch of the brigade during the summer months is charged 
with the manufacture of ice, which is sold at cost price 
to those in a position to pay for it, but is supplied free 
to the poor in case of illness or other necessity. 

In fact, the town of Hanover can lay claim to the proud 
boast that first of all the cities in the world it has recognized 
the science of fire-fighting to the extent of founding a lec- 
tureship on "Fire Control," the chair of which is located 
at the Royal Technical College of Hanover, which now 
ranks as a national university. The first lecturer, "decent," 
was that Herr Reichel, of whom mention has already been 
made. 

From a perusal of the foregoing pages the reader will 
have recognized that the outstanding feature of German 
fire brigade organization, as evidenced by that of its most 
important centres, is the large part played by a semi-military 
handling of the subject, coupled with that thoroughness of 
technique and design, which is distinctive of the Teuton 
character. But this must not be taken to mean that in the 
opinion of the author, nothing is beyond criticism or above 
discussion. In the first place, as must always happen in 
countries where class distinctions are rigid and the private 
soldier cannot in all truth be said to carry the Field Mar- 
shal's baton in his pocket, there is that tendency to assume 
that mere theoretical training is sufficient to equip an in- 
dividual satisfactorily to fight so insidious an enemy as 
"fire." It is the humble opinion of the writer that this 
theory is erroneous. The individual may be provided with 



FIRE-FIGHTING IN GERMANY 77 

the most extensive scientific panoply of degrees and di- 
plomas regarding the arithmetic progression of combustion 
under certain conditions, he may be able to work out by 
trigonometry the angle of a water delivery from a pump 
to a window many feet from the ground, and he may be 
an expert at assessing the nozzle pressure necessary suc- 
cessfully to circumvent an outbreak, before the latter has 
reached serious proportions. This in theory. But what of 
the practice. Every sailor knows that it is a matter of no 
great difficulty to ascertain in a class room the position of 
an imaginary ship upon an imaginary ocean, with the assist- 
ance of an imaginary sextant and the ordinary aids to navi- 
gation. Everything is at hand to make his task an easy 
one, even to that of such adjuncts as light, warmth and sta- 
bility. But place that same individual on board a real ship 
upon a real ocean, in a small ill-lighted deck-house, with a 
chart pinned down on a swaying, uneven surface, and ask 
him to work out the same set of figures or the same prob- 
lem, and he may be forgiven if he fails hopelessly. So is it 
in all appertaining to this science of fire-fighting. With all 
the technical knowledge in the world and nothing else 
behind it, it would be ludicrous to expect any person suc- 
cessfully to cope with so crafty an enemy as the flames, 
or at any rate as competently to obtain their mastery as 
one trained actually upon the field of experience. 

In this connection, also, without wishing to appear hyper- 
critical, it seems doubtful whether the Berlin practice of 
preventing senior officers from taking an active part in the 
actual fire-fighting is either wise or desirable. True, a gen- 
eral on a battlefield is expected to direct operations from a 
point of as much safety as is consistent with his duties, but 
in the case of a fire chief, it should be remembered that each 
fire must be fought on its particular merits. There has 
been no survey of the ground previously, there has been 
no active intelligence department to warn the attacking 
force of what particular line of development may be ex- 
pected; all that the fire chief knows is the bare fact that 
an outbreak has occurred at such and such a place and 



78 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

that the locality is a dangerous one or vice versa. Hence, 
in order to satisfy himself as to the true state of affairs 
it is imperative that he should judge for himself by per- 
sonal observation as to the possible chances of a spread 
of the flames and the best method to fight the same. 

Further, another feature of the Berlin fire department 
seems to demand special criticism, namely the custom of 
allowing a fire to burn itself out if situated at the top of 
a building, the other contents of which would be dam- 
aged by water attack. No doubt this may be essayed and 
essayed safely in a fire-proof building, separated from its 
neighbors by a certain distance, and when a sufficient por- 
tion of the fire department is concentrated on the scene 
and can remain there for any emergency. But time must 
be allowed for the said fire to burn out, and the force de- 
tailed to watch it may meantime be urgently wanted else- 
where. To leave it un watched would, of course, be suicidal. 
Hence, such tactics must be regarded as hazardous, and 
much better were it that the insurance companies should 
suffer for a minimum of loss than be obliged to meet the 
demands of a really serious conflagration, the possibility 
of which is always present under such conditions. These 
are a few of the thoughts which arise in the mind of any 
trained practical fire-fighter. It is the theoretician who sees 
in the vicarious strategy outlined above a better method of 
overcoming a wily enemy than the old style of coming to 
grips at once and fighting to a finish. 

For the rest, the German fire departments have much to 
recommend them as models to the world, not the least 
important factor in their organization being the prestige 
attaching to fire-fighting as a science, and to the honour- 
able position occupied by officers and men in the estimation 
of the public. 



CHAPTER VII 

FIRE DEPARTMENTS OF MIDDLE EUROPE AUSTRO-HUNGARY, 
SWITZERLAND AND ITALY 

THE dominant feature of the Austrian fire department 
is the high degree of excellence attained by purely voluntary 
corps, which owe their development in a great measure to 
the system of federation introduced as long ago as 1869. 
This organization was extended in 1885 under the name of 
the Austrian Fire Brigade Board, comprising delegates 
from the provincial brigades under a president and two 
vice-presidents. In 1900 this Board received recognition 
from the Crown, became known as the Austrian Imperial 
Fire Brigades Association and obtained an annual subven- 
tion from the Government. Today this federation num- 
bers more than 9,500 brigades representing practically the 
entire Austrian service. Some idea of the magnitude of 
this force can be gathered from the amount of the appa- 
ratus involved, namely, over 200 steam fire engines and 
over 13,000 manuals. From time to time this Association 
appoints technical commissions to examine all questions 
connected with the scientific aspect of fire control. Fur- 
ther, courses of study are specially designed to familiarize 
officers and non-commissioned officers with the theoretical 
problems involved in fire-fighting. Particular attention is 
directed to the inspection of local brigades, and efforts are 
made to secure uniformity in their organization. Accord- 
ing to the principles adopted by the Imperial Association, 
every volunteer corps must be composed of two sections, 
each properly equipped for fire extinguishing and life sav- 
ing work. Thus these brigades can be used not only for 

79 



8o FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

fighting fires, but may equally be called upon to render 
assistance in the event of accidents of any nature. Such a 
system is no doubt of public benefit in rural communities, 
but would clearly be impracticable in large towns unless all 
municipal forces were under the control of the same execu- 
tive. 

A matter of enormous importance in the economics 
of the Austrian fire service is the fact that the law of the 
country requires all insurance corporations and companies, 
trading on Austrian territory, to contribute about two per 
cent, of their total gross premium income on the risk taken 
in Austrian territory, for the specific purpose of assisting 
in the upkeep of the fire brigades and towards the firemen's 
widows and orphans' fund. This law affects all com- 
panies, irrespective of their nationality. It must be here 
emphasized that the foregoing remarks apply only to Aus- 
trian territory proper, Hungary possessing a distinct and 
separate organization of its own. The Hungarian Fire 
Brigades Union consists of 1,325 units out of a total of 
nearly 9,000 corps, sufficient evidence of the fact that it has 
not won the same popular interest. Its executive serves 
as the board of experts, to which the Minister of the In- 
terior applies when technical questions have to be 
dealt with. An annual course of instruction is ar- 
ranged by the Union lasting three weeks, and no 
officer apparently can attain chief officer's rank in a Union 
brigade without having passed this test and obtained a 
certificate. As to the Union's general work, it has syste- 
matized all questions of uniform and badges of rank, it 
has created a long-service medal and has issued clear 
instructions for competitions and a guide for the 
testing of fire extinguishing appliances. Doubtless this 
list of ordinances is possessed of local value, but to the 
scientific mind it seems strange that questions of technical 
import have not received more attention from such an asso- 
ciation. True, a uniform coupling is used throughout the 
country, and there is a standard manual fire engine, but as 
non-union brigades possess these appliances, it may be pre- 



FIRE DEPARTMENTS OF MIDDLE EUROPE 81 

sumed that their adoption has merely been a matter of con- 
venience. 

The city of Vienna, as regards fire protection, is depend- 
ent upon a municipally paid professional brigade assisted 
by volunteer suburban corps under the control of brigade 
headquarters. Eight officers, five civilians and 475 men 
form the personnel of the former, located in 15 stations, 
with two special watches in public buildings. The officers 
consist of the Commandant, a Chief Inspector and six sub- 
ordinates, all of whom are housed at the central fire station. 
Of the rank and file, 8 are drill sergeants, 40 telegraph 
clerks, 53 foremen, 22 engineers, while 248 comprise the 
actual fire-fighting force. In addition 24 telegraph clerks 
and engineers are detailed for duty with the volunteer 
suburban brigades, the remainder of the force, numbering 
78, being coachmen. 

Numerically such a fighting strength for the fire protec- 
tion of a city of the size of Vienna would seem hopelessly 
inadequate, but in this connection a word must be said for 
the building regulations enforced by the municipality, which 
greatly diminish fire risks owing to their far-sighted effi- 
cacy. 

The apparatus of the brigade is adequate to its needs, 
perhaps the most distinctive feature being the chemical en- 
gines, in connection with which are operated 80 foot me- 
chanical extension ladders. Their crew consists of an offi- 
cer and five men, additional gear carried comprising 3 hook 
ladders, a hose reel, a hand engine, a smoke helmet, a 
jumping sheet, an ambulance chest, toolbox, torches, and so 
forth. On duty the firemen wear uniforms of white can- 
vas, which scarcely seem appropriate, considering the na- 
ture of the work they are called upon to do. Generally 
speaking, it would appear from the data obtainable that 
there is a tendency to overload the men with gear, and that 
some of the heavier apparatus is insufficiently supplied with 
personnel effectively to operate it. 

The Suburban Volunteer brigades turn out to fires in 
their own districts, but may be called upon to assist in the 



82 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

event of a serious outbreak in the city. Their equipment is 
very similar to the municipal brigade and, since the men 
are volunteers, and as such enthusiasts, they take a pride 
in keeping as upi-to-date as possible in all matters pertaining 
to their apparatus. 

Vienna is particularly fortunate as regards its water sup- 
ply, which is ample for the requirements of the brigade. 
There are 3,620 hydrants, with an average nozzle-pressure 
of from 75 to 90 pounds, so that the use of the 
steam fire engine is rarely necessary, doing away with much 
of the cumbersome apparatus found in other continental 
cities. 

The Ho f burg Theatre is generally considered one of the 
finest in the world, but judging from the following report 
from the Journal of the British Fire Prevention Committee 
it would seem that, in common with most other similar 
structures in the European capitals, desire for architectural 
magnificence has outweighed the less artistic essentials 
upon which its fire safety depends. "It is subject to a 
considerable risk of fire through antiquated electric installa- 
tion. The switch room on the stage is one of the most 
dangerous the members of the party have seen. Besides 
being dangerous electrically, it is highly inflammable, and 
lined with match-boarding. There was much unnecessary 
match-boarding and woodwork in the theatre. It appeared 
curious that a building such as the Vienna Hofburg The- 
atre, on which such an immense sum of money had been 
spent, should contain defects so palpable that they were 
inexcusable. The staircase from the stage to the mezzanine 
was very antiquated, and capable of much improvement. 
The exits, however, seemed ample." The theatre has its 
own fire staff, and below the gridiron is fitted with a species 
of sprinkler operated from the stage level. Beyond this 
precaution, apparently nothing is done to ensure the safety 
of the flies or the scenery dock. There is, of course, an 
iron curtain between the stage and the auditorium, though 
the front of the house is seemingly left unprotected. At 
all theatres in Vienna an evening watch is posted and the 



FIRE DEPARTMENTS OF MIDDLE EUROPE 83 

fire apparatus is examined prior to, and after, each per- 
formance. 

Though an Ambulance Service can scarcely be consid- 
ered an integral portion of a fire department, yet in Vienna 
the two organizations are so combined as to be almost in- 
separable. Formed consequent upon the Ring Theatre fire 
of 1871 by Baron Mundi, the Vienna Volunteer Ambulance 
Society has as its object the creation of a civil ambulance 
service to render aid on occasions of great emergency, such 
as conflagrations, railway accidents, floods and the like. It 
consists of three departments, the first detailed for fire ser- 
vice, the second for flood service, and the third for first-aid 
service. The fire service comprises several of the Vienna 
suburban volunteer fire brigades, four hundred of the men 
of these brigades being organized to do duty for this pur- 
pose outside the metropolitan area, if necessary. The flood 
service comprises 149 men from the leading rowing clubs, 
and has its own pumps, pontoons and food distributing 
vehicles, thus acting to some degree as a substitute for a 
regular river fire department. The first-aid service com- 
prises 14 paid doctors, 325 voluntary doctors, 60 medical 
students, 3 ambulance superintendents, 12 ambulance order- 
lies and 6 coachmen. In the administrative building of the 
society there are waiting-rooms, duty rooms, an accident 
ward, operating theatre and watchhouse, the latter specially 
equipped with telephones for communication with the fire 
department, police and other authorities. For railway acci- 
dents the radius of action is 300 miles, while in the event 
of a conflagration or great disaster the society can count 
immediately upon the services of 50 doctors and 200 volun- 
teer ambulance orderlies equipped with 26 ambulances, 250 
stretchers and a large quantity of minor appliances. This 
forms a valuable auxiliary to the fire department, which 
can always rely upon its immediate cooperation. 

Some consideration must now be given to the Buda Pesth 
fire brigade, which is 'likewise a combination of professional 
and volunteer forces. The staff of the professional brigade 
consists of a Chief Officer, an Inspector, a Senior and two 



84 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

Junior Adjutants, 23 warrant officers, 3 engineers, 15 fore- 
men, 175 firemen and sufficient coachmen to drive the 
horsed appliances. Amongst the apparatus may be noticed 
1 6 fire engines, 22 manual engines, and a supply of hose 
wagons and extension ladders. Headquarters and sub- 
stations are connected by private telephones. There are 
149 fire alarms distributed throughout the city, which num- 
ber seems inadequate. Since the publication of these data, 
it is understood that arrangements have been made to re- 
equip the force, but necessarily this operation will cover 
some time. On the other hand, the Volunteer Brigade is a 
model of its kind, possesses an independent constitution and 
comprises some 80 members. It is capitalized to the extent 
of $40,000, and receives in addition a special annual sub- 
sidy from the municipality. Though legally an entirely 
self-governing institution the corps voluntarily puts itself 
under the command of the Chief Officer of the municipal 
brigade. Their equipment is housed together, since that 
operated by the volunteers is bought and maintained by the 
city. The professional head of the department has at his 
daily disposal ten men, who do duty every night and render 
service if called upon. Owing to the fact that the fire risks 
in Buda Pesth are regarded as considerable, it has been 
found necessary to augment these two services by essen- 
tially private organizations of factory fire brigades. These 
number 44 all told, total 1,600 men, and have a mutual 
understanding whereby the members of any one factory 
assist others in case of need. 

In criticizing the fire department and equipment of a 
town such as this, it must be remembered that it would be 
expecting too much to demand the finished organization and 
up-to-date resources of a city such as New York. When it 
is considered that only latterly has fire control come to be 
regarded as worthy of more than passing attention, it 
speaks volumes for the enterprise of a municipality situated 
so far east and peopled by a race so temperamental 
as the Hungarians, to have evolved so efficient a ser- 
vice. This comment is made necessary because, since com- 



FIRE DEPARTMENTS OF MIDDLE EUROPE 85 

parisons are odious but constantly instituted, it may be 
imagined that such a statement of facts implies discredit. 

The following condensed account of the burning of the 
"Parisian Store" in Buda Pesth on August 24, 1903, 
though ancient history, still possesses considerable interest. 
On the ground and mezzanine floors of the building were 
business premises, while the other four stories comprising 
the house were given over to residential apartments. An 
open courtyard in the centre of the block provided light 
and air to the residential portion. The proprietor of the 
business premises, wishing to increase his accommodation, 
had rented the mezzanine floor of the two adjoining blocks, 
cutting large openings in the party wall. In addition he 
roofed over the open court at the floor level above the 
mezzanine, closing the doors on the ground and mezzanine 
floors leading to both front and back staircases and block- 
ing the windows facing the business premises. The store 
premises were stocked with drygoods. 

At about 7 P.M. smoke was seen issuing through the par- 
tition separating the business from the main street entrance 
of the residential portion. It is alleged that the outbreak 
was due to an electric short circuit, but more probably it 
originated among some of the inflammable goods in the 
store. The fire spread rapidly, volumes of smoke cutting 
off the egress of the tenants. Shortly the whole of the 
business portion of the building was involved, and the 
flames entered the residential part through the glass roof 
over the central court. Thus the tenants had no other 
means of escape except the windows overlooking the street, 
the door of the back staircase having meantime become 
involved in the general conflagration. Before the arrival 
of the brigade three persons had jumped from windows 
and lost their lives. By the time that the brigade had ar- 
rived upon the scene the fire had obtained so firm a hold 
that the fire escapes and jumping sheets could not be em- 
ployed to proper advantage, with the result that 26 other 
persons jumped, of whom 9 lost their lives, 16 were seri- 
ously injured and one was unharmed. Owing to the open- 



86 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

ings in the party walls of the mezzanine, the fire spread to 
the adjoining block, narrowly avoiding a very much larger 
area of damage. The moral of such a calamity is obvious. 
When tenements are over business premises, every con- 
structional means should be adopted to ensure the safety 
of the residents. In this connection the municipality itself 
should see to it that in all new buildings attention is paid 
to fire risks, and also that no trade or business of a danger- 
ous nature should be carried on in any inhabited dwelling. 
This is of especial importance in these days, when the em- 
ployment of celluloid in various forms has come into such 
common use. 

Since the development of Rome from 1870 onwards, 
combustible materials in building construction have been 
practically prohibited. In buildings prior to 1870 wood 
could be primarily found only in roofs and floors. The 
wooden staircase in Rome is an exception, and in structures 
both old and new, a substantial vaulted fire-resisting floor 
separates the ground floor from all other parts of the build- 
ing. Thus all shops on the street level are effectively iso- 
lated from tenements above. The number of factories and 
workshops in Rome is small and is limited to a few steam 
mills; consequently up to 1894 the fire brigade was com- 
posed of municipal workers, who took it in turns to man 
the stations and to act as theatre watchmen. Since that 
year the force has been reorganized, being 200 strong, of 
whom 140 are firemen, 50 belong to a special reserve and 
ten are officers. The municipality pays the entire expenses 
of the brigade, amounting to about $12,500 per annum. 

There are in all seven stations connected by telephonic 
communication, and an alarm system of roughly a hundred 
points. As regards water supply, there are 350 hydrants 
exclusively for fire purposes, together with some 3,000 
others, which can be brought into use if necessary. It is 
estimated that the number of fires per annum amount ap- 
proximately to 270, of which on an average 216 may be 
listed as "petty," the damage incurred being in each case 
under $200. Since the population of Rome aggregates half 



FIRE DEPARTMENTS OF MIDDLE EUROPE 87 

a million, it will be seen that the incidence of fires per 
thousand inhabitants works out at only 1.8. The total 
average fire damage annually reaches $50,000. In case of 
necessity, following the usual continental procedure, the 
brigade renders assistance at disasters other than fires. As 
far as apparatus is concerned there is little to demand 
attention, the equipment for the most part being somewhat 
antiquated. 

No better illustration of the divergency in Italian tem- 
perament could be exemplified than the organization of the 
Milan fire department and that of Rome. The northern 
capital is keenly alive to fire risks, and with that enterprise 
which distinguishes the Piedmontese it has left no stone 
unturned to keep its equipment at a high level of excellence. 
By the decree of the Viceroy, Eugene Napoleon, the brigade 
was first organized in 1811, and consisted of 2 officers and 
8 1 men, who were exempt from military service, but were 
under military discipline. This jurisdiction was not re- 
moved till 1859. A great fire, which occurred in 1871, 
shewed the necessity for the augmentation of the force, 
and in the following year 100 members were added, divided 
into two sections of 50 firemen each. The first was formed 
of regular firemen posted at the stations; the second of 
workmen who were obliged to undergo a periodical in- 
struction, attend fires, and undertake patrol duty in the 
theatres. 

In 1905 the corps was modernized, and the present per- 
sonnel comprises eight superior officers with 240 rank and 
file. The superintendence of the equipment is delegated 
to a chief engineer assisted by a motor expert. 

Included amongst the appliances are 86 manuals and 9 
steam fire engines, 5 motor-driven pumps and 9 extension 
ladders. The use of the chemical engine is general, and 
a large supply of "smoke helmets is included in the appa- 
ratus. There are seven stations with direct telephonic com- 
munication, each being specially connected with the munici- 
pal offices, the police, the military and the theatres. On an 
average per annum there are 785 alarms, of which 16 are 



88 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

serious, 52 of less importance and 659 of slight conse- 
quence. False alarms are inconsiderable. In addition the 
brigade renders first aid, being provided with special am- 
bulances for that purpose, while it assists also in the de- 
molishing of dangerous structures. 

The Scala Theatre, Milan, is world renowned on account 
of its vast size, being third in seating capacity of all such 
structures. It is subject to the supervision of the theatre 
committee, but being a building of considerable antiquity 
and very inferior in fabric it can only serve as an example 
of how a theatre may escape destruction by fire, regardless 
of the fact that the most elementary rules of constructional 
equipment have been disregarded. Hence great credit must 
be accorded to the Theatre Committee in its efforts to ob- 
tain small improvements, whilst not having the required 
powers for the drastic action necessary. The hydrants in 
the building have a nozzle pressure of about 40 pounds at 
the stage level, and are so arranged that the upper floors 
may be served through their being coupled to steam fire 
pumps. 

Another feature in Milan is also worthy of note. As in 
many continental countries the Government of Italy has 
taken over control of all pawnshops, and has organized 
them into a State Department, known as the Mont de 
Piete, which comprises, besides the actual loan office, a 
credit bank and a safe deposit. For this purpose the Mu- 
nicipality of Milan has constructed a special fireproof build- 
ing, which of its kind is a model. Of reinforced concrete, 
the floors of the galleries are of iron with cages of steel 
wire for the storage of goods in pawn. There is a special 
watch station on the top of the highest portion of the build- 
ing, connected direct to fire headquarters, and a special 
patrol is kept constantly on duty. Incidentally there are 
some 60,000 depositors per annum, and nearly 65 per cent, 
of the goods pawned are under the value of $4; the total 
value of pledges in one year reach the enormous sum of 
$2,300,000, a sufficient indication of the use made of this 
institution. By a Government regulation, when a reserve 



FIRE DEPARTMENTS OF MIDDLE EUROPE 89 

fund of $50,000 has been accumulated, the profit goes to 
municipal charities, so that the money of the needy may be 
said to supply in part their own necessities. 

The Florentine fire department is the best volunteer or- 
ganization of the kind which can be found in Italy. It is 
commanded by a military officer, specially selected from 
the army for this purpose, and paid by the municipality, 
which also provides the equipment and fire station. Other- 
wise it is officered and manned by volunteers, numbering 
about 130 officers and men. Their apparatus consists of 
4 steam fire engines, a salvage and dangerous structure 
trap, which is in itself something of a novelty, and three 
extension ladders. Florence has about 160 fires annually. 
Since the water supply is not altogether satisfactory, and 
hydrants are not to be found in all streets, special engines 
are used capable of drawing water at a distance of over 300 
feet. When the pressure is too small, pumps are used in 
tandem. The average power from the mains is about 40 
pounds to the square inch, which is sufficient for the ser- 
vices it is called upon to perform. 

Needless to say, the part played by the fire brigade in 
Venice is one which, in some of its aspects, is unique. Nat- 
urally in a city with canals as highroads, the question of 
transportation differs materially from that in other towns. 
The corps forms an integral portion of the "Vigili," or 
municipal watchmen, who preserve order and generally 
render assistance to the community. 

Thus in the event of a serious conflagration, the police 
section of the "Vigili" augment the fire section and vice 
versa. Each division has a commander and its own staff, 
both being under the supervision of a military officer spe- 
cially appointed by the municipality. The rank and file of 
the fire department number 71, and are distributed in 6 
companies of varying strength. Their apparatus is nat- 
urally designed for water transport, and consists of one 
large modern petrol propelled float, one large old type 
steam float, two 35-foot steam launches, and several small 
petrol motor boats, which are used as first-aid appliances. 



90 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

Manual engines, ladders, and so forth, are carried in a 
large fleet of swift gondolas. Fire escape work is done 
with Roman ladders, which are usually planted on two 
gondolas slung together barge form, or, if the depth of the 
canal permits, the lower length is bedded in the canal bot- 
tom. 

Owing to the substantial character of the older buildings, 
and also of the modern residential and business structures, 
the fire hazards are primarily those in the dock area, with 
its numerous sheds and small warehouses of a highly in- 
flammable character. There are also some large industrial 
works in which the fire risks are equally great. The num- 
ber of fires annually is comparatively small, averaging 125, 
and it is rare that more than one or two can be classified 
as serious. Roughly the fire loss per annum is $50,000, or 
about $400 per fire. 

Generally speaking, a considerable awakening of interest 
in questions relating to fire control is manifest in Italy, 
King Victor being something of an enthusiast in that re- 
spect. It is a mistake, however, to suppose, as is advanced 
by some technical writers, that Italy is more immune from 
the fire peril than other countries, because of its climate. 
Facts speak for themselves, and the fire risks in New York 
are nearly as great in mid-summer as in the depths of win- 
ter. 

Italy's geographical neighbour, Switzerland, possesses 
a fire service run practically on national lines, that of Zurich 
supplying an excellent example. This is a compulsory mili- 
tia brigade under the control of the Chief of Police, who is 
also Chairman of a committee of nine charged with the 
protection of the town from fire. Zurich covers about 
12,000 acres, 1,500 of which are built over with some 
15,000 houses, the whole of the buildings being subject to 
the local building regulations and the "State Insurance 
Association's" rules in which they are compulsorily in- 
sured. Every male inhabitant of the town is compelled to 
do some service for the prevention of, or protection against, 
fire, from the age of 20 to 50, which duty may be fulfilled 



FIRE DEPARTMENTS OF MIDDLE EUROPE 91 

by active service or, in the case of an able-bodied citizen, 
who is found unsuitable for such service, by the payment 
of a tax. This impost is fixed upon the basis of his in- 
come, though certain citizens are, ipso facto, exempt from 
active fire duty. The fire brigade comprises 15 companies 
of 1 20 men each, the officers being appointed by the Mu- 
nicipal Committee. Only men, who are personally enthu- 
siastic, and who are possessed of good physique, are se- 
lected, and are preferably recruited from the building or 
allied trades. Absence from drills is regarded as a serious 
offense, being punishable by a fine alternatively with im- 
prisonment. The city insures the whole of the brigade 
against accidents and illness with the Swiss Fire Brigade 
Union, and also provides a fund for families in cases of 
death of firemen on duty. 

Each company has three sections: a fire service section, 
a life saving section and a police section, the latter being 
utilized for keeping the ground free and attending to sal- 
vage. Further, each company is supposed, as a rule, to be 
able to deal with any fire in its own district, and it is only 
in the case of a very serious outbreak that additional com- 
panies are requested. Thus there is a system of decentral- 
ization and independence of action in this force not often 
met with elsewhere, which, applied to a large area, would 
be unworkable. Firemen receive 20 cents for each drill of 
two hours, while for fires they receive 40 cents for two 
hours and ten cents for each additional hour. This would 
appear to provide an incentive to unscrupulous fire- 
men, though probably such are non-existent in Zurich, 
to prolong the life of a fire in accordance with the 
demands of their purse. The official regulations also 
state that refreshments are provided, though in this con- 
nection it is not clear whether before, during, or after a 
blaze! ! ! 

An extensive telephone service is at the disposal of the 
brigade, but since all the personnel are not connected with 
the system, the alarm is mainly given by horns blown by 
those who have telephones in their homes. One may be 



92 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

forgiven for imagining that under such circumstances this 
number cannot be very great. By law, the telephone service 
is free for alarms, and is at the disposal of anyone for that 
purpose. 

A company comprises i chief officer, i second officer, i 
doctor, 2 ambulance men and 6 orderlies as staff in charge, 
supplemented by: for the fire service, i lieutenant and 40 
men, for the life-saving section, the same, and for the police 
section, i lieutenant and 20 men. The full force of all 
companies is about 2,300 of all ranks. The apparatus is 
simple in nature, consisting mainly of hose reels and ladder 
trucks, housed in corrugated iron sheds to which the fire- 
men all have keys. This simplicity of equipment is only 
made possible by an excellent service of hydrants, of which 
the city has 2,895, with a nozzle-pressure of from 60 to 120 
pounds. This represents a great advantage over the pres- 
sures to be found in most other continental cities, and is 
attributable to the fact that the water supply comes from 
the mountains. 

The fire control service is organized on most elaborate 
lines, owing to the fact that the building regulations and 
state fire insurance are practically in the same hands. All 
fresh construction and even alteration is subject to a Can- 
tonial Building Act, and it is the duty of the building de- 
partment to carry out the law. Three members of the 
Town Council form a committee to grant or refuse licenses 
for new buildings or alterations to old ones, and in this duty 
they are assisted by technical advisers, namely, the city 
architect and a number of architectural assistants and sur- 
veyors. In the case of a license being refused appeal may 
be made to the Town Council in plenum, and finally to 
the Cantonial government. Amongst the regulations is the 
stringent inspection and cleanliness of chimneys, and the 
officials are, ipso facto, liable to prosecution in case of an 
outbreak of fire, if it can be shown that they were guilty 
of neglecting their duty. 

Such regulations speak volumes for the intelligence of 
the city fathers of this Swiss town, and are evidence of the 



FIRE DEPARTMENTS OF MIDDLE EUROPE 93 

realization by the municipality of the necessity for efficient 
fire control. 

The principles underlying the organization of the Lu- 
cerne fire department are very similar to those governing 
Zurich, with the difference that there is not so much decen- 
tralization, and that the force is more homogeneous in char- 
acter. It possesses, however, one feature which is probably 
unique. Attached to the life-saving section of the corps is 
a technical division composed of experts drawn from such 
industrial undertakings as the Municipal Electrical Supply 
Company, the Telephone Company, the Tramway Com- 
pany, the gasworks and the waterworks. The officer in 
command of this section is a civil engineer on the regular 
staff of the brigade, whose duty it is to advise the com- 
manding officer on all technical points. 

All these divisions and sub-divisions must tend toward 
some confusion in practice, but at the same time the fire 
chief has ever at his disposal a fund of highly scientific 
information upon which to draw in case of need. 

It may be emphasized, however, that the actual exigen- 
cies of fire-fighting under the conditions common to fires 
of any magnitude can not permit of any fire chief accept- 
ing or soliciting advice from any quarter. He must be 
sufficient unto himself in the moment of action, though 
naturally he may have imbibed much useful knowledge from 
such sources during official discussions. Anything that in 
the smallest degree tends to diminish the initiative of the 
fire chief must be disadvantageous to a proper grasp of his 
complex duties, and it is to be feared in this case that in a 
multitude of counsel is confusion. This is penned in no 
critical spirit, but rather as embodying the experience of a 
practiced fire fighter. 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE TRADE OF ARSON" 

IT is calculated that incendiarism for the purpose of 
obtaining insurance money is responsible for the destruc- 
tion annually in New York alone of four million dollars' 
worth of property. This represents a daily loss of $10,000, 
or more than the yearly pay of a Major General in the 
United States Army. Needless to say this criminal practice 
is not confined to New York, every large town in America 
suffers in a greater or less degree from the attentions of 
the genus "firebug." Now for this state of affairs it is 
impossible wholly to acquit the great insurance companies, 
for latterly it has become usual to accept fire risks of con- 
siderable value without instituting the searching en- 
quiries, which are a sine qua non for the completion of 
business in Europe and elsewhere. Of course, cases of 
arson do now and again occur in any community, but that 
a gang of criminals should find it both easy and profitable 
to carry on incendiarism as a regular calling seems almost 
incredible and bespeaks a species of toleration which is 
scarcely to the credit of the community. Quite apart from 
danger to public property and unnecessary loss to insurance 
companies stands out another point in the most vivid of 
relief, namely the dire peril to human life, of which these 
fiends take no account. 

This murderous trade appears to be peculiarly lucrative, 
and judging from statistics it offers little risk to the perpe- 
trators of discovery and punishment. In addition, also, 
it requires no stock in trade, such for instance as is necessary 
to the forger, it demands no courage such as characterizes 

94 



THE TRADE OF ARSON 95 

and lends an air of romance to the train bandit and most 
assuredly it makes no great call upon mental ingenuity 
such as marks the operations of the bank swindler. Hence 
the "firebug" may without doubt be classed as belonging 
to the lowest and most degraded portion of the criminal 
population. Not that necessarily the votaries of this occu- 
pation lack a certain amount of spurious education. On 
the contrary they are drawn from all grades of society, 
the less educated being as a rule the tools employed to do 
the actual burning. In this category must also be included 
those misguided individuals, who finding themselves in fi- 
nancial difficulties regard a fire as the simplest method of 
retrieving their shattered fortunes. Frequently such people 
employ the services of the professional firebug and share 
the proceeds. Thus "fire making" has become a regularly 
accepted calling, which it is most urgent should be stamped 
out in its entirety once and for always. 

Were additional evidence of the accuracy of these state- 
ments needed it is surely supplied by the following curious 
circumstances. During the spring, fires in the fur trade are 
prevalent, while hat and cap fires usually occur in the sum- 
mer. From September to December it is peculiar that the 
ready made cloak and suit trade suffers severely, while any 
change of fashion in millinery or feathers is invariably 
followed by a corresponding destruction of old stock 
through fire. The advent of the motor car heralded the 
burning out of hundreds of stables, and now the influx of 
cheap automobiles into the market appears to approach to 
over production since garage outbreaks have become prac- 
tically incessant. All of which is, of course, only circum- 
stantial evidence, though it may be aptly remarked that in 
some countries this alone is sufficient to bring a man to the 
gallows. 

Insurance officials argue that, in order to collect insurance 
on anything alleged to have been destroyed, "proof of loss" 
must be submitted. But for the professional firebug this 
matter presents no difficulty. His system of operation in- 
cludes a full knowledge of whence he can obtain ample 



96 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

supplies of false invoices, forged affidavits and perjured 
testimony. In some cases, goods and furniture which have 
done duty in other fires are previously placed on the prem- 
ises in order that all necessary proof of loss may be at 
hand. 

This business of incendiarism is responsible to a large 
degree for that undesirable class of persons known techni- 
cally as "public fire adjusters." It is the self-imposed duty 
of these functionaries immediately on the occurrence of a 
fire in any part of the city, to hasten to the scene and get 
into touch with the insured person affected by the outbreak. 
The keenest competition exists amongst them, and cases 
have been known when as many as ten were seeking the 
same insured party at the same time, and one of them 
succeeded in obtaining his client by virtually kidnapping 
him and carrying him away in an automobile. Ostensibly 
these "adjusters" play the part of philanthropists, actually 
they are influenced solely by motives of keen self interest. 
Instances have been known where such men have obtained 
as many as five separate contracts from an insured person 
immediately after a fire, each contract promising ten per 
cent of the insurance money to the adjuster; the assured 
being thus compelled on settlement to give up fully fifty 
per cent of his claim against the insurance companies. Al- 
though there are, no doubt, many honest agents, it is 
desirable to point out some of the questionable methods 
employed, especially in cases where arson charges are in- 
volved, thus giving direct encouragement to incendiarism. 
It is safe to hazard that if many incendiaries had to appear 
personally in the offices of insurance companies or of their 
accredited agents, and could not conceal themselves behind 
the crooked adjuster, the actual facts connected with many 
questionable fires would be revealed. 

The most pernicious practice imaginable is that of the 
agent, who when he solicits business amongst known fire- 
bugs has a distinct understanding with them that fires 
are to follow the issue of policies. This incriminates these 
gentlemen equally with their clients and they most richly 



THE TRADE OF ARSON 97 

deserve a long term of imprisonment. Others again in- 
struct policy holders how to "pad" their claims against 
companies without any appreciable risk of discovery. 
Hence, human nature being admittedly frail, it is not un- 
common for an individual to realize that by this means he 
can secure a maximum financial return for a minimum out- 
lay. 

The writer would here point out that incendiarism does 
not only affect the social fabric of the community, but multi- 
plies to an inconceivable degree the labours of the fire-fight- 
ing force. For generally speaking the incendiary lays his fire 
in such a way that it is of an obstinate character and only 
too likely to involve its surroundings. Also, it is deplor- 
able to relate that women are among the most expert 
in this nefarious trade; many an innocent looking curtain 
and gas-jet blaze, or clothes-closet fire is the skilfully 
executed work of the female incendiary. In this connec- 
tion the following may be taken as illustrative of the lengths 
to which women will go in their efforts to make money 
by this means. During the night of August I5th, 1910, 
a motorman on a trolley car passing down Third Avenue, 
Brooklyn, noticed a red glare of a fire in one of the houses 
on the route. With commendable curiosity he stopped and 
investigated. He saw a woman, apparently sleeping, near 
the doorway of a shop, with her two children beside her 
one an infant in a cradle. Being a hot night, there was 
nothing particularly surprising in this. The shop door, 
however, was ajar, and the motorman peeped in. A strong 
smell of benzine assailed his nostrils and in his anxiety 
to ascertain the cause he pushed the door further open and 
stumbled upon two little bonfires blazing merrily. Promptly 
arousing the apparently sleeping woman, he turned in the 
alarm. Other tenants in the premises, which contained 
a number of families and children, rushed down and 
attempted to put out the flames. Then the "Sleeping 
Beauty" of fiction became the shrew of fact, and a wicked 
one to boot. "Don't do that," she screamed angrily. "You 
will only spread the fire. Let the firemen put it out." Her 



9 8 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

peculiar anxiety not to have the outbreak promptly ex- 
tinguished aroused suspicion, and investigations were made. 
Firemen found several wide mouthed bottles in different 
parts of the shop, all containing kerosene, around their 
necks being tied cords which led to a main string passing 
out under the door to where this ingenious lady had been 
pretending to sleep. Her explanation of the paraphernalia 
was unintentionally humorous. She suggested that it must 
have been the action of a "wicked" burglar. This na'ive 
proposition, however, did not satisfy the authorities, and 
after a severe cross-examination she admitted that the fire 
had been made at the instigation of a so-called adjuster. 
This enterprising agent, learning that she had only thirty 
cents left in the world, had glibly pointed out to her the 
great advantages to be derived from a fire policy followed 
by a convenient fire. He had dilated upon his success 
as a professional incendiarist, remarking that in Chicago he 
had engineered two uncommonly remunerative ventures. 
In the first he had "made" the fire while the family, in order 
to avoid suspicion, had gone to a cinematograph show, 
while in the second case, in order to give some spectacular 
realism to a bald piece of villainy, he had actually allowed 
himself to be rescued at the crucial moment by the fire de- 
partment. Acting upon this information, the police made 
inquiries and quickly ran to earth the promoter of this 
dastardly plot. Brought face to face with his accuser, 
a dramatic scene ensued. The woman, upon it being pointed 
out to her that she had endangered the lives of numerous 
innocent children through the inhuman character of her 
act, completely broke down and exclaimed, "I didn't want 
the fire, I didn't do it ! I will tell the truth to show that 
I made a mistake in being influenced by a wicked man. 
He is a firebug and has made many fires in Chicago." 

It only remains to be said that the woman received a 
well merited sentence of five years penal servitude, while 
the community will be freed from the attentions of her ac- 
complice for double that period. One more account of 
feminine ingenuity. A lady residing in an apartment house 



THE TRADE OF ARSON 99 

with her three children, had as her sole lodger an old 
soldier with a wooden leg. One morning she peremptorily 
gave him notice to leave the same day, and within twenty- 
four hours a regrettable, and, of course, accidental, fire 
gutted the flat. The insurance company concerned paid her 
claim without demur, the sufferer removing without delay 
to more commodious quarters in another part of the town. 
After a short sojourn there, she announced her intention 
of paying a visit to the seaside. The night following her 
departure, some children sleeping in the apartment below 
the one she had vacated, were awakened by hot water drip- 
ping upon them from the ceiling. Immediate investigation 
resulted in the discovery of a fire in the flat above, the 
heat of which had melted the water pipes and had thus 
been instrumental in arousing the inmates of the house 
to the peril of their position. After the fire department had 
suppressed the outbreak, a remarkable state of affairs was 
disclosed. Sideboards, cupboards and closets were found to 
be literally packed with ingenious "time plants," guaranteed 
successfully to smoulder for several hours, and then, by 
bursting into flame, to work their wicked will upon every- 
thing inflammable in their vicinity. Under the bed was 
also discovered a wooden box stuffed with papers and 
cotton waste soaked in oil and surmounted by the inevitable 
candle. In the presence of such glaring evidence the 
woman was obliged to cut short her holiday and return 
in the company of a police officer. The insurance company 
which had been mulcted in damages over the preceding 
fire suddenly bethought itself of the unusual claim of 
"$6o for one wooden leg," and upon making inquiries 
found that the possessor of this means of locomotion had 
never mourned its loss. Brought to trial, after a lengthy 
hearing, the accused was found guilty of "arson in the 
first degree." 

The writer feels that he cannot do better than give the 
exact words of the judge who passed sentence upon this 
callous fiend. "There are certain crimes which are so 
revolting in their utter disregard of human life that one 



ioo FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

wonders at the cold-blooded calculation necessary to per- 
petrate them. Such a crime is arson in the first degree, 
for which crime you were indicted, and for which you 
have been convicted in a lesser degree after a careful 
trial the first woman found guilty of this crime here 
in twenty years. I am convinced that you were responsible 
for the previous fire in your former home, and, when you 
found that you were not suspected of that crime you 
planned this affair, and at the same time, increased the 
insurance upon your property. When the defendant is 
a woman, a mother, who with fiendish indifference for 
the lives of two families in her house with four little chil- 
dren in one and two in the other, acts as you have, such 
a deed passes human understanding upon any other hypothe- 
sis save that you were capable of becoming a murderess 
by that midnight fire, arranged in your rooms with the 
candles set in the oil soaked combustibles. You, absent to 
avoid suspicion, and all for the paltry insurance money 
you hoped to get. I have never seen a cooler, a more 
calculating prisoner; no womanly sympathy is here, sim- 
ply a fire fiend trying to secure money at any cost. Any 
feeling of pity or sympathy for you at this hour I must 
suspend before my stronger feeling of duty towards the 
people of this community, whose lives and property have 
twice been in jeopardy through your act. You are a men- 
ace to this city of homes and I therefore sentence you to 
remain in prison for a term of not less than fourteen 
years and not more than fourteen years and six months." 

Comment upon the above is superfluous, unless it be to 
say that never was sentence so richly deserved. 

Because it is almost inconceivable that women should 
descend to such depths, these instances of female depravity 
have been given precedence in the roll of dishonour con- 
nected with incendiarism. But let it not be imagined that 
the crimes of men in this direction are any less horrible 
or less callous. 

The story of Samuel Brant is of recent occurrence and 
is one of the few instances where a firebug has been caught 



THE TRADE OF ARSON 



red-handed. Brant openly boasted that he had worked 
up his profession into a high art and that no fire marshal 
would ever suspect him of the many charges which could 
be placed to his account. 

With two other men he arranged to set fire to a certain 
flat in Brooklyn and it may have been his over-confidence 
which gave the clue to the ever vigilant police department. 
Unknown to Brant he had been under surveillance for some 
time and the exact hour at which the fire was to take place 
had been discovered. The fire marshal being in the know, 
arranged that several of his staff should disguise them- 
selves as street cleaners and peddlers and loiter about in 
the vicinity of the premises. In a push cart, beneath a 
load of potatoes and other vegetables, were concealed a 
length of hose, some hand grenades and various fire- 
fighting apparatus. All these precautions were taken in 
order not to arouse Brant's suspicions, but just at the 
moment when all arrangements had been perfected, a guile- 
less policeman very nearly caused the ruin of the plan. 
He had stationed himself so near to the house in question 
that it was feared Brant might take alarm and make his 
escape. Through the medium of a woman a note was 
sent to the officer stating the case and asking him to leave 
his beat for the time being. Almost immediately after the 
departure of the policeman smoke was noticed to be is- 
suing from the windows of the apartment in question, and 
Brant, accompanied by one of his accomplices, was seen 
to hurry from the house. This was the signal for the 
supposed street cleaners to throw aside their brooms and for 
the peddlers to advance nearer with their innocent look- 
ing push-cart. Rapidly they closed in on the two men, 
who, remarkable to say, showed fight, since the genus 
firebug does not as a rule suffer from a surplus of physical 
courage. They were quickly overcome and handed over to 
the police, the peddlers suddenly developing into first-class 
firemen, who speedily extinguished the flames. The fire 
had been started in a clothes closet and the flat was literally 
a magazine of combustible material. At his trial Brant 



\ipk ; ! FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

remarked, "I am a specialist in making fires, and I can make 
them so that no one can catch me. The Fire Marshal is 
a joke. If he gets you, all you have to do is to tell him 
that you were away and get some one to prove it." It was 
proved that Brant and his associates worked a regular 
system. One pf them would solicit business by going to the 
owner of a store, flat or small business concern and offer 
to arrange for the insurance; at the same time planning 
the burning of the place. His terms were somewhat exorbi- 
tant, judging at least by that operation which cost him 
his freedom for fifteen years. A policy had been taken 
out for goods supposed to be worth $800, and from this 
sum no less than $500 was to be deducted by way of 
commission, or approximately 65 per cent of the claim. 

Incidentally Brant's gang was by no means unique, others 
are known to have operated in Chicago and Paterson, N. J., 
and if they have ceased from their efforts it must in no 
small degree be due to the active campaign waged lately 
against all of their kidney by Commissioner Johnson of 
the New York Fire Department, who can well claim to 
be their bitterest foe. 

Undoubtedly one of the most dastardly acts in the entire 
history of incendiarism was the series of operations carried 
on during the year 1912 by a gang under the leadership of 
a fiend in human form known popularly as "The Torch." 
Their system of swindling the fire insurance companies 
was peculiarly atrocious, and consisted of obtaining policies 
on good horses, substituting for the same broken-down 
hacks, and then burning the latter in order to collect their 
claims. Fortunately, for a week prior to the night of one 
of their projected holocausts, the suspects had been watched 
and their movements had become known to the Fire Mar- 
shal. "The Torch" was regarded as a desperate character, 
and hence the Fire Marshal's assistants who were chosen 
to surround the stables involved on the night in question, 
were heavily armed, while some two hundred yards away 
two steam fire engines were stationed in readiness for 
immediate action. Shortly after midnight the watchers 



THE TRADE OF ARSON 103 

were rewarded by seeing a glare inside the stable, and 
a moment later "The Torch" and his son were observed 
making their way from the rear of the stable through a 
hole under the mangers. An alarm whistle was blown; 
three revolver shots punctuated the silence, a signal to 
the firemen to hurry with their apparatus, and a moment 
later the two desperadoes were fighting like wildcats in 
the hands of their captors. When an entrance into the 
stable had been effected, it was difficult even for men ac- 
customed to all kinds of human rascality, to realize that 
what they saw was the work of men and not of devils. 
There were three fires burning, one just inside the doorway, 
a second a few feet away and another in a corner im- 
mediately behind seven helpless horses which were tethered 
to the mangers. The coats, tails and manes of two of 
these animals were saturated with gasoline. One of them 
was blind and the other was lame. The fire burning inside 
the doorway was so arranged as to block the only exit 
in case of possible rescue, and succeeded so well in its inten- 
tion that for a considerable time it hindered and rendered 
most dangerous the efforts of the firemen. The actual 
owner of the horses confessed that he had hired "The 
Torch" to carry out this inhuman task, since he had been 
told that the latter was an expert in that line of business. 
With the utmost callousness this firebug admitted his share 
in the deal, and showed not the least emotion when told 
that for the next twenty years, if the world was so un- 
fortunate as to be encumbered with his presence for that 
time, he would be compelled to make his home at Sing Sing 
prison. Though the writer knows full well the sentiments 
of humanitarians anent corporal punishment, he is unable 
to dissociate himself from a firm conviction that for 
crimes of this nature, perpetrated with such cold-blooded 
brutality, flogging is the most suitable reward. Unfortu- 
nately the number of stable fires is considerable, and the 
fact that approximately thirty-three per cent, of the same 
are listed officially as "Cause not ascertained" leads to 
the conclusion that they are of suspicious origin. Here 



104 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

surely, is sufficient food for unpleasant thought, for the 
hand which will apply the match to make a bonfire of a lot 
of dumb animals, will most assuredly not hesitate where 
human lives are involved. In another case, which came 
under the writer's notice, no less than sixty horses would 
have perished miserably, but for the prompt action of the 
fire brigade. Six separate fires, it was found, had been 
started in the stalls of the stable, each plant consisting of 
candles surrounded with kerosene-soaked straw. For per- 
petrators of this kind of outrage, what human punishment 
can be too great? 

The following case is of interest as evidencing the truth 
that in popular phraseology "chickens invariably come home 
to roost." 

An enterprising gentleman who had had a suspicious 
fire in a candy store, had been carefully kept under super- 
vision, as it was expected that initial success would en- 
courage future operations. One bleak March morning, a 
police officer was on patrol in the neighbourhood of the 
suspect's store when he noticed a man with a bundle of 
newspapers walking briskly down a side street. In a casual 
way he watched him and saw him throw away something 
which tinkled metallically as it fell on the pavement. The 
officer picked it up and found it to be a portion of a toy 
cash register made of black enameled tin. Putting it in his 
pocket, he resumed his patrol and a moment later came 
upon a motorman who had discovered a fire in the identical 
candy store under observation, and the alarm was turned 
in. The place was locked and there was a strong smell 
of kerosene. While waiting for the arrival of the fire ap- 
paratus, who should turn up but the same man whom the 
policeman had seen throw away the metal register. The 
store was completely gutted, and investigation clearly 
pointed to incendiarism. But direct proof was lacking. It 
was established that the owner was in serious financial 
difficulties, his account at the bank consisted only of six 
cents, and neighbors testified that his checks had been re- 
turned marked "insufficient funds." Further, shortly be- 



THE TRADE OF ARSON 105 

fore the fire, he admitted that he had borrowed money. 
This was certainly evidence of a presumptive character, but 
inadequate to secure conviction. On searching the remains 
of the fire, however, a charred toy cash register was 
discovered minus the portion corresponding to that which 
had been picked up by the policeman. Confronted with 
this exhibit, the suspect first declared that he kept several 
of the same design for sale. Later, under cross-examina- 
tion, he allowed that for fun his wife had used one and 
had deposited therein two dollars. The line adopted by the 
prosecution was that the accused had prepared his store 
for the fire, and that just prior to his departure he had 
recollected the two dollars and had broken open the register 
in order to secure it, carelessly throwing a portion of the 
same away in the street. Counsel for the defense sought 
to shatter this theory by producing a brand new toy 
register of similar design in court. Triumphantly he 
pointed out the following notice : "To open this bank place 
ten dollars in coin. It will then open automatically. If you 
don't deposit ten dollars in coin you will have to get an 
axe." Where, pleaded the counsel, was the evidence that 
accused had ever even possessed an axe? It was obvious 
that a blaze of this nature, which had not even incinerated 
a toy cash register could not so completely destroy a steel 
axe head that no trace of it could be found! And the fire 
department had never suggested that they had come upon 
any trace of such a thing ! ! Further, his client maintained 
most strongly that the policeman who identified him as 
the individual who had dropped the portion of the register 
on the morning of the fire, was in error. And in any case 
he defied the jury to find any cause to connect the cash 
box of the accused's wife with that under discussion. It 
had been proved that the box was unopenable without an 
axe, where was the axe? 

Upon this the jury retired to consider their verdict. 
Everything seemed in favor of the prisoner, when one of 
their number asked to inspect the exhibit. Within the space 
of three minutes he had disproved the printed statement 



io6 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

on its exterior and had opened it with a pen-knife. That 
candy store keeper received a well-earned five years* im- 
prisonment. 

It would be easy to continue multiplying instance upon 
instance and story upon story to show that the existence 
of the working incendiary is no figment of the writer's 
imagination, but rather a fact with which municipalities, 
fire departments and insurance companies have got to grap- 
ple. It accounts in part for the remarkable discrepancies 
between fire losses in American cities and those in Euro- 
pean communities. During 1910 London had 3,941 fires, 
Paris 2,030, Berlin 2,068, and New York 14,405. For 
every one hundred thousand inhabitants Berlin has 97 fires, 
London 81, St. Petersburg 75, Paris 74, Vienna 59, and 
New York 300. The fire loss per head of population 
in the United States generally is nearly five times greater 
than that of any foreign country. In New York, during 
1911, the per capita loss was $2.45, while the average for 
European cities was about $0.50, sinking as low as twelve 
cents in two towns so differently situated as Southampton 
and Dresden. After making every allowance for climatic 
differences, structural defects and the use of inflammable 
building materials, it is difficult to escape the conclusion 
that the firebug has a lot for which to answer. Broadly 
speaking, it is not exaggeration to estimate twenty-five per 
cent, of New York fires certainly, as of incendiary origin. 
The insurance risks carried by the one hundred and sev- 
enty-five companies in New York total the gigantic figure 
of forty billion dollars, spread throughout the country. 
Hence, it goes without saying that the influence exerted 
by these corporations, financial and otherwise, is stupendous 
and may indirectly control the welfare of the community. 
There are not wanting those who maintain that insurance 
companies, within a certain degree, welcome fires as be- 
speaking business. It is reported that the manager of a 
Scottish insurance company in a speech at Edinburgh, said, 
"Were there no fires there would be no insurance business. 
And on the other hand, the greater the fire damage, the 



THE TRADE OF ARSON 107 

greater the turnover, out of which insurance companies 
make profits." Now this is only the report of a speech, 
and quite probably has been transmitted incorrectly, for 
it most certainly is at variance with the opinions of the 
insurance officials with whom the writer has come in con- 
tact. Rather is the question one affecting the nation as 
a whole. The search after all classes of business is so keen 
nowadays, the turnover so tremendous and the demands 
of the share-holders for large profits so exacting, that di- 
rectors and others responsible must be pardoned if in their 
anxiety to do the best for those dependent upon them 
they accept risks which cooler calculation and difference 
of environment would show to be preposterous. It seems 
absurd to discuss an evil and then not to suggest the rem- 
edy. But incendiarism, though actively affecting the rou- 
tine of fire departments and causing fire chiefs endless 
worry and anxiety, belongs properly to a sphere outside 
the purview of the scientific fire-fighter. It is an excres- 
cence on the social fabric which needs removal by those 
specially equipped for the task. And undoubtedly, those 
referred to are the insurance companies. The means and 
methods to be employed must be left to them, for it would 
be as futile for the writer to tender suggestions on such 
a highl^ complicated problem, as it would be absurd for 
underwriters to give advice to him regarding the best way 
to fight a fire in a warehouse filled with explosives. But 
it is satisfactory to be able to state that already signs are 
not wanting of a general awakening of interest in the sub- 
ject amongst all classes affected, professional and otherwise. 
That is to say the insurance companies are on the move 
and it is no longer so easy to effect policies on worthless 
goods, while the individual of doubtful financial stability 
and dubious reputation is likely to experience considerable 
difficulty in persuading even the most reckless of agents 
to consider seriously his application. Towards this happy 
consummation, no one has worked with more energy and 
good will than Commissioner Johnson of the New York 
Fire Department, to whose publication on the subject the 



io8 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

writer is indebted for many illuminating facts used in 
this chapter. It will at least be conceded by all concerned 
that the introduction of legislation to assist the insurance 
companies in their laudable efforts by "making the punish- 
ment fit the crime" and thoroughly frightening the firebug 
by the penalties awaiting him, would be a distinct step in 
the right direction. 



CHAPTER IX 

GASOLINE AND GARAGES 

THE advent of the motor car has not proved an unmixed 
blessing to the fire-fighter, and it is no exaggeration to 
say that the general adoption of motor traction has enor- 
mously increased the fire-risk. In the first place, gasoline, 
the most usually employed of motor oils is an extremely 
dangerous substance to handle, though that familiarity 
which breeds contempt has robbed it of its sinister signifi- 
cance, while ignorance of an almost culpable nature has 
rendered its handling additionally and unnecessarily 
perilous. 

The first essential for motor owner, chauffeur or garage 
proprietor is that he should understand something of 
the chemical qualities of gasoline, in which term may be 
included all other spirits of a kindred nature such as petrol, 
naphthaline, etc. This does not mean that they must study 
the subject with the microscopic care of the professional 
chemist, but it does presuppose that any individual gifted 
with common sense prefers to know the characteristics of 
the most important adjunct of the machine he essays to 
own, drive or house. Gasoline in its primitive state is one 
of the component factors forming crude petroleum. By dis- 
tillation it is purified to a greater or lesser extent, automo- 
biles, as a rule, demanding the most refined spirit available. 
It is possessed of no flash point, that is to say, if placed in 
an open vessel it will vaporize at any ordinary temperature, 
in fact even with the thermometer at zero. The weight of 
its gas is three and a half times greater than air, which 
forms an inherent hazard, since, unlike ordinary lighting 

109 



i io FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

and acetyline gases, which rise and are carried off by a 
breeze or through any opening which causes a draught, 
it falls to the floor and will lie and collect unless dis- 
turbed. Should the disturbance take the form of a lighted 
match or candle a tremendous explosion results and fire 
follows. But the point is, that there is nothing to show 
that it is collecting in any particular place; it remains dor- 
mant and unobserved like a snake in the grass and is every 
inch as dangerous in its effects. Further, unmixed with 
air, this vapor is comparatively harmless; its virility de- 
pends upon its admixture with the ethereal gases, when 
one pint of gasoline is sufficient to make two hundred feet 
of highly explosive mixture. 

In the liquid state, gasoline is innocuous, that is to say 
so long as it remains an absolute liquid it can neither ignite, 
burn or explode. Similarly, pure gasoline vapor will 
neither ignite nor burn, but requires the assistance of the 
air, and it is precisely for this reason that the carburetor 
plays such an important part in the mechanism of the motor 
engine. Its highest point of explosive violence is reached 
when roughly one part of vapor mixes with eight parts 
of air, and decreases in combustibility with an increase 
of either air or gasoline. Another peculiar property in 
gasoline to be noted is, that even when vaporized and mixed 
with air, it has a definite temperature of ignition, just as 
wood or any other combustible material. 

Hence, it will be seen, that this spirit is often more 
dangerous than even gunpowder or dynamite, inasmuch 
as the latter will stay where they are placed while the for- 
mer may vaporize, and, creeping subtly along a floor or 
passage, may be ignited a hundred feet or so distant from 
its source. The resultant flash will travel back through 
the gas strata, thus causing an explosion or fire at the 
point of its inception. With such ever-present risks atten- 
dant upon its use it might be imagined that every possible 
precaution would be adopted by those handling it. And 
yet exactly the reverse is the case. 

Of all careless persons, chauffeurs and employees of 




BEFORE THE ALARM IS TURNED IN. 



GASOLINE AND GARAGES in 

garages may justly claim preeminence. In spite of printed 
regulations and orders prominently displayed they will 
smoke with the utmost insouciance at every possible oppor- 
tunity, absolutely heedless of the fact that they would be 
just as well advised to smoke in a powder mill! And if 
the employees are bad then the owners are not much better. 
Unless compelled by municipal ordinances, they are 
sublimely indifferent to effective fire protection in their 
garages, and with the slightest encouragement will press 
into their service any building, however unsuited to the 
purpose, either by structure or convenience. An empty 
stable, a disused church, a ramshackle warehouse built of 
wood, anything does so long as there is sufficient floor 
space and there is any method by which the law can be 
contravened with impunity. These are some of the difficul- 
ties which the modern fire-fighter must be prepared to 
encounter and by some means overcome. Needless to say, 
drastic laws have been introduced for the proper storage of 
gasoline in garages, though in this direction a very curious 
anomaly may be noted. Thus, while the gasoline in the 
main tank is assiduously protected, no attention is given 
to the spirit in the tanks of the automobiles themselves, 
often amounting to thirty or forty gallons per tank and 
located haphazard throughout the entire building. It is 
obvious that, if a fire starts, such an arrangement is only 
too likely to lead to disaster, and that the care displayed 
over the main gasoline tank is not unlike locking the 
windows against burglars and leaving the door wide open. 
Broadly speaking, gasoline should be stored in a well- 
made tank, underground and beneath the floor of the 
garage, and in this connection it will be apropos to give 
some excerpts from the regulations governing garages and 
the storage of gasoline in New York city. 

The following six sections explain succinctly where gar- 
ages should under no circumstances be situated. (A) 
No garage must be within fifty feet of the nearest wall of 
a building occupied as a school, theatre or other place of 
public amusement and assembly. (B) It must not be 



H2 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

situated in any building occupied as a tenement house or 
hotel. This is by no means uncommon in some parts of 
Europe, though any one conversant with the peril he is 
running would preferably sleep above a fireworks factory. 
(C) Garages may not be located in buildings not con- 
structed of fire-resisting material throughout. (D) They 
may not be situated in places where paints, varnishes 01 
lacquers are either manufactured, stored or kept for sale, 
(E) Or where dry goods or other highly inflammable 
materials are manufactured or kept for sale. (F) Oi 
where rosin, turpentine, hemp, cotton, gun cotton, smokeless 
powder, blasting powder, or any other explosives are stored 
or kept for sale. 

Such regulations may sound absurd to the average 
citizen. Who on earth would want to have a garage in c 
place where explosives are stored? it may be asked; anc 
though this may be extreme it is a fact that most of the 
regulations framed for fire protection are fashioned tc 
guard against the proved thoughtlessness of the individual 
The writer is reminded of a genial character he encoun 
tered once in his travels in a certain West African port 
The gentleman in question casually knocked his pipe ashes 
out against the rim of an open keg of blasting powder 
The remonstrances of his mates, which were of a physica 
nature, elicited from him the excuse, "Well, I've ofter 
done it before and nothing has ever happened." It wai 
quite useless to argue the point; that he would have beei 
blown to Jericho, or somewhere else, but for the mere] 
of providence weighed with him not a whit. It is person: 
of this type who make "nursery" legislation necessary, anc 
their name in the motor world is legion. 

The following sections explain themselves and serve tc 
illustrate how gasoline should be stored, having due regarc 
to safety. (A) "Each storage tank shall be constructec 
of steel at least J4 of an i ncn thick; shall have a capacit; 
of not more than 275 gallons, and shall, under test, stan< 
a hydrostatic pressure of at least 100 pounds to the squar 
inch. (B) Each storage tank shall be coated on the out 



GASOLINE AND GARAGES 113 

side with tar or other rust-resisting material, shall rest 
upon a solid foundation and shall be embedded in and 
surrounded by at least twelve inches of Portland cement 
concrete, composed of two parts of cement, three parts of 
sand and five parts of stone. (C) Each storage tank 
installed in a garage shall be so set that the top, or highest 
point thereof, shall be at least two feet below the level 
of the lowest cellar floor of any building within a radius of 
ten feet from the tank." Garages constructed along these 
lines are unlikely readily to catch alight, and the financial 
outlay rendered necessary by such structural additions is as 
nothing to the increased security obtained. 

The following rules should also be rigidly observed and 
are applicable to garages attached to private houses, which, 
be it said, are often carelessly looked after since both 
master and man are only too prone to be lax, especially 
when outside the sphere of city regulations. Incidentally, 
however, this is precisely one of the occasions demanding 
the maximum of precaution. "All oils spilled on the floors 
of a garage should be removed at once by sponging or 
swabbing, and should be poured into the drain leading to 
the oil separator which is installed so as to be connected 
to the house drain, and so arranged as to separate all oils 
from the drainage of the garage. 

"No system of artificial lighting other than incandescent 
electric lights should be installed in any garage unless of a 
type for which a certificate of approval has been issued 
by the fire commissioner." Of course, in the country, there 
may be some difficulty over this provision, but common 
sense applied to the problem will certainly limit the fire 
risk. It also goes without say that no stoves or any appli- 
ance likely to produce an exposed spark should be installed 
in a garage, unless placed in a room separated from it by 
fireproof floors and walls. As regards the carelessness of 
the individual, the following excerpt taken from a 
speech made at the annual meeting of the National Board 
of Fire Underwriters, needs no comment. 

"I confess it is astonishing to find that the fire waste 



ii 4 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

is not diminished by the better character of buildings we 
are getting. We are getting better buildings than we ever 
did before, but the losses keep up, and this is because 
fires cost more today than they ever did before. And 
there are new hazards. We are using higher explosives ; we 
are using higher potentials in electrical practice; we are 
using more gases, like gasoline. Ten years ago the gaso- 
line engine was a clumsy device ; there were but few. The 
development of the gasoline engine has brought a wide- 
spread field for it. The farmer uses it for cutting his 
feed and grain; the merchant uses it; the manufacturer 
uses it. The automobile has scattered gasoline all over 
the country. To my desk there come reports of thousands 
of fires every year from gasoline cleaning with gasoline, 
garages stored with gasoline, and the cheerful idiot who 
smokes cigarettes in the garages and throws matches about. 
Useless, unnecessary fires must be checked. If we can 
place individual responsibility; if we can change the atti- 
tude of the people toward the man who has a fire so that 
they can see that he is not an object of sympathy but a 
man who has offended against the common welfare, unless 
he can prove that he was in no way responsible for that 
fire, then we will approach the time when we can diminish 
those hazards. That point of view must be emphasized, and 
when every man who has a fire will have to step up before 
the Fire Marshal's investigation and is exhibited to his 
fellows as an offender against the common good, as a 
picker of the pockets of the rest of us, I believe we will 
correct these habits of carelessness." 

The writer cordially endorses the above and, as regards 
fire control in garages, is inclined to add that for the lax 
in this respect, no condemnation can be too severe. 

From the latest report of the New York Board of Fire 
Underwriters it appears that of 206 recent fires 33 per 
cent, were due to the use of gasoline for cleaning cars and 
43 per cent, were due to back fire into the carburetors of 
automobiles. Amongst the others were 5 from filling 
tanks of automobiles with lamps burning, 3 from smoking, 






SMOKY FIBE, NEW YOBK. 



GASOLINE AND GARAGES 115 

4 from gasoline leaks in contact with a hot exhaust pipe, 

5 from defective electric equipment on cars and I from 
spontaneous combustion. These figures point to the fact 
that the promiscuous use of gasoline in many garages for 
cleaning purposes, taken in conjunction with the number 
of fires attributed to this cause, is one of the most serious 
hazards with which to contend. Although the investiga- 
tions indicate that 33 per cent, of all fires of known cause 
were due to this practice, the actual number is probably 
even greater as there is reason to believe that an appreci- 
able number of fires reported as caused by back fire into 
carburetors are due directly or indirectly to cleaning parts 
of the car with gasoline. In a number of the best managed 
garages the prohibition of the use of gasoline for cleaning 
purposes is strictly enforced, and the use of oils no more 
volatile than kerosene is insisted upon. In other cases even 
kerosene is prohibited for such purposes and use of caustic 
soda and water or a similar solution is required. One 
golden rule for all garages, public or private, is that a 
number of buckets filled with sand should be kept in readi- 
ness for any emergency, while in the way of hand extin- 
guishers those containing carbonate of chloride are 
amongst the most effectual. 

Another fruitful source of danger, as far as the use of 
gasoline is concerned, is its employment in dry-cleaning 
and sponging establishments. In fact, it is an interesting 
commentary upon the philosophy of life that those ele- 
ments which are of the greatest general use to society are 
nearly always fraught with an irreducible minimum of 
risk, if applied without caution. The cleansing properties 
of gasoline are beyond estimate; upon this being discov- 
ered, fools literally stepped in where angels feared to tread, 
with the result that several lives were lost in consequence 
of hairdressers using this spirit as a shampoo, while it was 
not unusual for employees in dry-cleaning establishments 
to wander around gas lighted rooms with trays full of the 
liquid. 

Things have altered since then. The former operation 



ii6 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

has been forbidden, and the latter is now hedged in with 
such restrictions that safety is, to a considerable extent, 
guaranteed. Usually the method employed consists of 
revolving drums, each containing thirty or more gallons 
of gasoline, which, being in a constant state of disturbance, 
has a tendency to throw off heavy fumes, hence the drums 
must be kept closed. When the garments are removed and 
placed in the rotary driers, or centrifugals, more fumes 
are given off; and, finally, the function of the drying 
room is to enable the clothes to throw off such gasoline 
as still remains in them, so that this room is especially 
thick with vapor. In addition, a number of open vessels 
containing from five to fifty gallons of spirit will be found 
scattered about the place, their raison d'etre being to 
facilitate the cleaning of gloves, laces and other light and 
filmy fabrics. The hazard in places of this description is 
too apparent to require much elaboration, and it need only 
be said that the system of storing the main supply of gaso- 
line should be the same as in garages, namely underground. 
In this connection it is of interest to note that never, in 
the experience of the writer, has any fire started from an 
underground storage system, and in no case has fire been 
increased because of such a system. In fact, there is no 
case on record where the gasoline in a buried tank has been 
affected by a fire. This proves conclusively that there is 
no danger in its storage when properly arranged, but only 
in its handling. Thus, the latter should be expedited in 
every possible way, and so arranged that the gasoline is 
not exposed to the air, and the ventilation of garages 
and dry-cleaning plants should be so effected that no gases 
can accumulate on the floors. 

Hence, the safe and sane handling of gasoline is no 
longer a question of insurmountable or insuperable diffi- 
culty. Inasmuch as the automobile has come to stay, inas- 
much as motor traction will be increasingly applied in the 
near future for all classes of transportation, and inasmuch 
as the same familiarity, akin to the affection formerly 
shown to the horse, will now be extended to the motor 






GASOLINE AND GARAGES 117 

car, though the affection for the former must not be 
allowed to develop into contempt for the latter, then it be- 
hooves the layman to understand something of the tool 
with which he will be called upon to deal. Gasoline has 
been termed "man's unseen enemy," but, like many other 
potential adversaries, careful handling may transform it 
into a useful servant and a trusty friend. 

In conclusion, in order to emphasize the point once 
again, that point which is so regularly neglected and which 
is such a fruitful source of danger to the community at 
large, the words of the New York Fire Ordinance may 
be quoted in extenso; they apply to all places in which 
gasoline is either used or stored. "It shall be unlawful for 
any person to smoke or to carry a lighted cigar, cigarette 
or pipe, into any room or compartment in which volatile 
or inflammable oil is stored or used; and a notice bearing 
in large letters the words 'SMOKING FORBIDDEN/ 
together with an excerpt of the rules governing the subject 
in smaller letters shall be displayed in one or more con- 
spicuous places on each floor where volatile inflammable 
oil is stored or used. Those breaking the regulation 
hereon displayed are guilty of a misdemeanor." 



CHAPTER X 

GREAT FIRES AND HOW THEY WERE FOUGHT 

PART I 

GREAT conflagrations are plentifully recorded during 
Roman times and, as has been shown, all that the science of 
the period coupled with most comrnendable forethought 
could accomplish, was done to stave off the peril. None 
the less, however, the magnificent "Basilica Julia," a build- 
ing devoted to law courts, completed by Augustus in 
B.C.44 after plans designed by Julius Caesar, was entirely 
gutted and remains to this day a relic of architectural an- 
tiquity and a perpetual reminder that fire risks ever were, 
and probably ever will be, amongst the perils of existence. 
Again in 64 A.D. Rome was devastated by an outbreak 
which lasted three days and burned out most of the resi- 
dential portion of the city. It has been popularly attributed 
to that peculiarly eccentric emperor Nero, but in justice 
to that despot it must be added that the evidence of his 
being a "firebug" on a gigantic scale is slight. Then oc- 
curred a lapse of centuries, during which, no doubt, bad 
fires took place, but they were not of a sufficiently startling 
character to leave any permanent mark upon history till 
the partial destruction of London in 1666. The details 
of this conflagration are so well known that it seems almost 
unnecessary to dwell upon it, but the following description 
drawn from a diary of that gossipy old chronicler Samuel 
Pepys, appears worthy of quotation, since he was an eye- 
witness, and the style in which he writes is so quaint: 

"Sept. 2nd. Lord's Day. Some of .our maids sitting 
up late last night to get things ready against our feast to- 
day, Jane called us up about three in the morning to tell us 

118 



GREAT FIRES HOW THEY WERE FOUGHT 119 

of a great fire they saw in the city. So I rose and slipped on 
my night gown and went to the window ; but being unused 
to such fires as followed, I thought it far enough off; and 
so to bed again and to sleep. . . Bye and bye Jane 
comes and tells me that she hears that above three hundred 
houses have been burned down tonight by the fire we saw 
and that it is now burning down all Fish Street by London 
Bridge. So I made myself ready presently and walked 
to the Tower; and there got up upon one of the high 
places, Sir J. Robinson's little son going up with me; and 
there I did see the houses at that end of the bridge all on 
fire and an infinite great fire on this and the other side, the 
end of the bridge; which among other people did trouble 
me for poor little Michell and our Sarah on the bridge. So 
down with my heart full of trouble to the Lieutenant of 
the Tower, who tells me that it begun this morning in the 
King's baker's house in Pudding Lane, and that it hath 
burnt down St. Magnus's Church and the most part of Fish 
Street already. So I go down to the waterside and there 
got a boat, and through bridge, and there saw a lamentable 
fire. Poor Michell's house as far as the Old Swan, already 
burned that way, and the fire running further, that in a 
very little time it got as far as the Steele-yard, while I was 
there. Everybody endeavouring to remove their goods, and 
flinging into the river, or bringing them into lighters that 
lay off; poor people staying in their houses as long as till 
the very fire touched them, and then running into boats or 
clambering from one pair of stairs by the waterside to an- 
other. And among other things, the poor pigeons, I per- 
ceive, were loth to leave their houses, but hovered about the 
windows and balconies till they burned their wings and fell 
down. Having staid, and in an hour's time seen the fire 
rage every way; and nobody to my sight endeavouring to 
quench it, but to remove their goods and leave all to the 
fire; and having seen it get as far as the Steele-yard, and 
the wind mighty high and driving it into the city; and 
everything after so long a drought proving combustible, 
even the very stones of the churches; and among other 



120 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

things the poor steeple by which pretty Mrs. lives, 

and whereof my old schoolfellow Elborough is parson, 
taken fire in the very top and there burned till it fell down ; 
I go to Whitehall with a gentleman with me, who desired 
to go off from the Tower to see the fire in my boat; and 
there up to the King's closet in the Chapel where people 
come about me, and I did give them an account, dismayed 
them all, and word was carried into the King. So I was 
called for and did tell the King and the Duke of York what 
I saw; and that unless his Majesty did command houses 
to be pulled down, nothing could stop the fire. They 
seemed much troubled, and the King commanded me to go 
to my Lord Mayor for him, and command him to spare 
no houses, but to pull down before the fire every way. 
The Duke of York bid me tell him, that if he would have 
any more soldiers, he shall ; and so did my Lord Arlington 
after, as a great secret. Here meeting with Captain Cocke, 
I in his coach, which he lent me, and Creed with me to St. 
Paul's; and there walked along Watling Street as well as 
I could, every creature coming away loaded with goods to 
save, and here and there sick people carried away in beds. 
Extraordinary good goods carried in carts and on backs. 
At last met my Lord Mayor in Canning Street, like a man 
spent, with a handkercher about his neck. To the King's 
message he cried, like a fainting woman, "Lord, what can 
I do ? I am spent : people will not obey me. I have been 
pulling down houses ; but the fire overtakes us faster than 
we can do it." That he needed no more soldiers; and that, 
for himself, he must go and refresh himself, having been 
up all night. So he left me and I him and walked home ; 
seeing people all almost distracted, and no manner of means 
used to quench the fire. The houses, too, so very thick 
thereabouts, and full of matter for burning as pitch and tar 
in Thames Street; and warehouses of oyle and wines and 
brandy and other things. Here I saw Mr. Isaac Houblon, 
the handsome man, prettily dressed and dirty at his door at 
Dowgate, receiving some of his brother's things, whose 
houses were on fire; and, as he says, have been removed 



GREAT FIRES HOW THEY WERE FOUGHT 121 

twice already; and he doubts, as it soon proved, that they 
must be removed from his house also, in a little time, which 
was a sad consideration. And to see the churches all filling 
with goods by people who themselves should have been 
quietly there at the time. By this time it was about twelve 
o'clock and so home and there find my guests. . . . 

"So near the fire as we could for smoke; and all over the 
Thames, with one's faces in the wind, you were almost 
burned with a shower of firedrops. This is very true; so 
as houses were burned by these drops and flakes of fire, 
three or four, nay five or six houses, one after the other. 
When we could endure no more upon the water, we to a 
little alehouse on the Bankside, over against the Three 
Cranes, and there staid till it was dark almost, and saw 
the fire grow; and as it grew darker, appeared more and 
more; and in corners and upon steeples, and between 
churches and houses, as far as we could see up the hill of 
the city, in a most horrid malicious bloody flame, not like 
the fine flame of an ordinary fire." 

The chronicler at this point is forced to leave his own 
home and finds shelter with one, Sir W. Rider. This occu- 
pied him during the 3rd of September and he continues on 
the 4th. 

"Sir W. Pen and I to the Tower Street, and there met 
the fire burning, three or four doors beyond Mr. Howell's, 
whose goods poor man, his trayes and dishes, shovells, etc., 
were flung all along Tower Street in the kennels, and peo- 
ple working therewith from one end to the other; the fire 
coming on in that narrow street with incredible fury. . . . 
And in the evening Sir W. Pen and I did dig another (pit) 
and put our wine in it, and I my parmazan cheese, as well 
as my wine and some other things. ... I after supper 
walked in the dark down to Tower Street, and there saw 
it all on fire, at the Trinity House on that side and the 
Dolphin Tavern on this side, which was very near us, and 
the whole heaven on fire. Now begins the practice of blow- 
ing up of houses in Tower Street, those next the Tower, 
which at first did frighten people more than anything ; but 



122 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

it stopped the fire where it was done, it bringing down the 
houses to the ground in the same places they stood, and 
then it was easy to quench what little fire was in it, though 
it kindled nothing almost. . . . 5th. About two in the 
morning my wife calls me up, and tells me of new cryes of 
fire, it being come to Barking Church, which is the bottom 
of our lane. I up, and finding it is so, resolved presently 
to take her away, and did, and took my gold, which was 
about 2,350 pounds, W. Hewer and Jane down by 
Proundy's boat to Woolwich; but Lord, what a sad sight 
it was by moonlight, to see the whole city almost on fire, 
that you might see it as plain at Woolwich, as if you were 
by it. ... But to the fire, and there find greater hopes 
than I expected ; for my confidence of finding our office on 
fire was such, that I durst not ask anybody how it was 
with us, till I come and saw it was not burned. But, going 
to the fire, I find, by the blowing up of houses, and the 
great help given by the workmen out of the King's yards, 
sent up by Sir W. Pen, there is a good stop given to it, as 
well at Marke Lane End as at ours ; it having only burned 
the dyall of Barking Church, and part of the porch, and 
was there quenched. I up to the top of Barking steeple, 
and there saw the saddest sight of desolation that I ever 
saw; everywhere great fires, oyle cellars, and brimstone 
and other things burning. I became afraid to stay there 
long, and therefore down again as fast as I could, the fire 
being spread as far as I could see it; and to Sir W. Pen's, 
and there eat a piece of cold meat, having eaten nothing 
since Sunday but the remains of Sunday's dinner. Here I 
met with Mr. Young and Whistler, and having removed 
all my things, and received good hopes that the fire at our 
end is stopped, then I walk into the town and find Fen- 
church Street, Gracious Street, and Lumbard Street all in 
dust. The Exchange a sad sight, nothing standing there, 
of all the statues or pillars, but Sir Thomas Gresham's pic- 
ture in the corner. Into Moore-fields, our feet ready to 
burn, walking through the town among the hot coals, and 
find that full of people, and poor wretches carrying their 



GREAT FIRES HOW THEY WERE FOUGHT 123 

goods there, and everybody keeping his goods together by 
themselves ; and a great blessing it is to them that it is fair 
weather for them to keep abroad night and day; drunk 
there, and paid two-pence for a penny loaf. Thence home- 
ward, having passed through Cheapside, and Newgate mar- 
ket all burned; and seen Anthony Joyce's house in fire; 
and took up, which I keep by me, a piece of glass of the 
Mercer's chapel in the street, where much more was, so 
melted and buckled with the heat of the firelike parchment. 
I did also see a poor cat taken out of a hole in a chimney, 
joyning to the wall of the Exchange, with the hair all 
burned off the body and yet alive. . . . 6th. Up about five 
o'clock, and met Mr. Gauden at the gate of the office, I 
intending to go out, as I used every now and then, today 
to see how the fire is, to call our men to Bishopsgate, where 
no fire had yet been near, and there is now one broke out ; 
which did give great grounds to people and to me, too, to 
think that there is some kind of plot in this, on which many 
by this time have been taken, and it hath been dangerous 
for any stranger to walk in the streets, but I went with the 
men, and we did put it out in a little time ; so that that was 
well again. It was pretty to see how hard the women did 
work in the cannells, sweeping of water; but then they 
would scold for drink, and be as drunk as devils. I saw 
good butts of sugar broke open in the street, and people 
give and take handfuls out, and put into beer, and drink it. 
And now all being pretty well, I took boat, and over to 
Southwarke, and took boat on the other side of the bridge, 
and so to Westminster, thinking to shift myself, being all 
in dirt from top to bottom; but could not there find any 
place to buy a shirt or a pair of gloves, Westminster Hall 
being full of people's goods, those in Westminster having 
removed all their goods, and the Exchequer money put into 
vessels to carry to Nonsuch; but to the Swan and there 
was trimmed: and then to White Hall, but saw nobody; 
and so home. A sad sight to see how the river looks; no 
houses nor church near it, to the Temple where it stopped. 
And home, did go with Sir W. Batten, and our neighbour, 



i2 4 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

Knightley, who with one more was the only man of any 
fashion left in the neighbourhood thereabouts, they all re- 
moving their goods, and leaving their houses to the mercy 
of the fire. . . . Thence down to Deptford, and there with 
great satisfaction landed all my goods at Sir G. Carteret's 
safe, and nothing missed I could see or hear. . . . But 
strange it is to see Clothworker's Hall on fire these three 
days and nights in one body of flame, it being the cellar 
full of oyle. 7th. Up by five o'clock ; and, blessed be God, 
find all well; and by water to Pane's Wharf e. Walked 
hence, and saw all the town burned, and a miserable sight 
of Paul's Church, with all the roofs fallen and the body of 
the quire fallen into St. Faythe's ; Paul's School also, Lud- 
gate, and Fleet Street. My father's house, and the church, 
and a good part of the Temple alike. . . . This day our 
Merchants first met at Gresham College, which, by proc- 
lamation, is to be their Exchange. Strange to hear what 
is bid for houses all up and down here; a friend of Sir W. 
Ryder's having a hundred and fifty pounds for what he 
used to let for forty pounds per annum. Much dispute 
where the Custom House shall be; thereby the growth of 
the city again to be foreseen. . . . People all over the 
world do cry out of the simplicity of my Lord Mayor in 
generall ; and more particularly in this business of the fire, 
laying it all upon him. . . . Much good discourse; among 
others, of the low spirits of some rich men of the city in 
sparing any encouragement to the poor people that wrought 
for the saving of their houses. Among others, Alderman 
Starling, a very rich man, without children, the fire at next 
door to him in our lane, after our men had saved his house, 
did give two shillings and sixpence among thirty of them, 
and did quarrel with some that would remove the rubbish 
out of the way of the fire, saying that they had come to 
steal. . . . 1 5th. Captain Cocke says he hath computed that 
the rents of the houses lost this fire in the city comes to 
six hundred thousand pounds per annum. . . . I7th. By 
water, seeing the city all the way, a sad sight indeed, much 
fire being still in." 



GREAT FIRES HOW THEY WERE FOUGHT 125 

So much for the story of the fire of London as told by 
so inquisitive and garrulous an eyewitness as Samuel 
Pepys. He could have had no idea that two and a half 
centuries later, all that he remarked as passing strange 
would be repeated in another continent and amongst build- 
ings higher than the then summit of "Paul's Church." 

And yet it is curious to note how identical in many re- 
spects are the great conflagrations of today. The general 
rush for safety with never a moment's consideration as to 
whether after all there may not be some advantage in the 
defence of the home by the individual, the starting of sub- 
sidiary fires by burning embers, the use of explosives as a 
means of stopping a conflagration, often only to increase 
the damage, the frantic appeal to the Mayor to do some- 
thing and the failure of that individual often to rise to the 
occasion and finally, of course, the finding of a suitable 
scapegoat upon whom to heap blame. It also proves the 
lamentable condition to which the science of fire prevention 
had sunk, when the most important and the most wealthy 
city of the period, not only possessed no organized plan of 
fire resistance, but was content to let it burn for aught its 
inhabitants cared, so long as their individual property was 
saved. The lesson, however, was not forgotten, and un- 
doubtedly the modern fire department owes its renaissance 
from Roman times to this disaster, which once and for all 
taught the good burgesses of London and elsewhere that 
fire was an enemy as crafty and as dangerous as any on 
land or sea. 

Amongst great conflagrations, that of the city of Balti- 
more, which occurred on Sunday, February 7, 1904, and 
continued over the greater part of the following day, at- 
tains special prominence from the fact that in spite of the 
stupendous damage done to property no lives were lost. 
The burnt area covered 140 acres and comprised 80 city 
blocks in the business section, while no less than 27 great 
buildings of fire resistive construction were completely 
gutted and, in some cases, collapsed. It may here be stated 
that at no time was there any shortage of water, which, 



126 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

of course, is one of the most general causes for the spread 
of a fire. At 10.48 on that Sunday morning, the automatic 
alarm registered a call from the basement of the Hurst 
Building, a wholesale drygoods house with a varied stock, 
including a large supply of celluloid novelties. Its location 
was the southeast corner of Liberty and German Streets 
and within 48 seconds of the alarm, an engine company 
and a hook and ladder company under command of the 
District Chief were upon the scene. At that time no fire 
was visible on the first floor, and neither smoke nor heat 
was apparent. Presumably this led to an underestimation 
of the seriousness of the outbreak, as the firemen promptly 
proceeded to attack only with a single line of chemical hose, 
passed from the German Street side of the building into 
the basement. The small blaze discovered there, and prob- 
ably caused by a smouldering pile of rubbish, suddenly 
burst into flame, which, with incredible rapidity, ran up the 
elevator shaft, driving the firemen from their positions. 
About seven minutes later a violent explosion occurred, 
blowing out the windows in the building and shattering all 
the glass in the immediate neighbourhood. It was then 
seen that the entire house was alight from top to bottom 
and the flames shooting out through the windows greedily 
licked the walls of the buildings opposite, which, in their 
turn, took fire. 

Being Sunday, a large proportion of the popula- 
tion were at church, when the muffled boom of the 
explosion was heard above the solemn strains of sacred 
music. What it portended none could tell, but in the 
twinkling of an eye ministers and their congregations had 
left their devotions and hurried into the street. As though 
in answer to their worst fears, another dull rumble of 
threatening significance was borne across the morning 
breeze. Later this was ascertained to have been caused 
by the explosion of a large quantity of blasting powder, 
which, by blowing out more windows, expedited the onrush 
of the flames. 

Residents in the hilly portions of the city, gazing 



GREAT FIRES HOW THEY WERE FOUGHT 127 

fearfully in the direction of the sound, could see huge 
volumes of fleecy smoke rising sullenly from the busi- 
ness quarter, and then at last the realization was brought 
home upon them that they were face to face with a great 
conflagration. 

Amongst the first to reach the outbreak were 
scores of business men intent upon saving their books and 
records, and who eagerly enlisted the services of boys, loaf- 
ers, longshoremen, in fact, any person willing to aid in the 
all-important task. The Express Companies likewise re- 
sponded with all speed to the sudden demands made upon 
them and sent emergency calls for all their employees to 
requisition hand-carts and wagons. 

Meantime the outbreak had increased alarmingly, 
and had obviously grown beyond the control of 
the fire department. A district alarm had almost 
at once been sent in, and the Departmental Chief, 
hurrying to the scene of operations, had quickly real- 
ized that the flames, fanned by an increasing wind and 
spreading in two directions, would need a greater force to 
deal with them than he had at his disposal. Also bad luck 
seemed to dog their most desperate efforts. An attempt 
to save a valuable piece of apparatus cost precious time and 
was unsuccessful, while Chief Horton himself was unfor- 
tunate enough soon after his arrival to be incapacitated 
for duty by a severe electric shock from a fallen cable. 
It is impossible to estimate the moral effect of such 
an occurrence, for even as on a battlefield soldiers 
look for encouragement and stimulus to their comman- 
der, even more so do the rank and file of a fire-fighting 
force depend on the example and propinquity of their 
Chief. 

As soon as it became clear that the conflagra- 
tion was assuming colossal proportions, urgent mes- 
sages were sent to surrounding towns, such as 
Washington, Chester, York and Philadelphia, for 
their assistance and ultimately even to New York, 
which responded to the call with promptitude. Owing to 



128 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

the congestion of apparatus, however, the crowds of spec- 
tators and the general confusion, many of the out-of-town 
engines could not be utilized to the best of advantage, while 
difference in hose couplings obliged numbers to obtain their 
own water supply direct from the harbour, thus preventing 
their presence where most urgent. The fire generally took 
a westerly direction, and the buildings in the path of the 
flames failed to offer any resistance, owing to their "fire- 
walls" being parallel to the onset. 

In the town itself the conditions were lamenta- 
ble. At the City Hospital, the Sisters of Mercy 
with smiling faces and sinking hearts endeavoured 
to keep all news of the fire from their charges, 
while the staff physicians stationed themselves on the roof 
in order to extinguish the burning embers which rained 
upon them. Finally it was deemed necessary to transport 
the sufferers to a place of safety in the upper town, a task 
carried out with the greatest tenderness and skill. Need- 
less to add, all medical men in the town had offered their 
services, and though happily these were required in only a 
few instances, the knowledge of the fact went a long way 
towards reassuring the timid. From 5 o'clock in the after- 
noon till midnight, the fire made its greatest headway, the 
wind during this period having increased from 14 miles an 
hour in a westerly direction to twenty-five miles, after 
which it veered to northwest, and remained in that quarter 
with decreasing velocity till the finish. The spread of the 
conflagration in the direct path of the wind was practically 
unchecked by the operations of the fire-fighters, by the 
doubtful expedient of dynamiting both burning and un- 
burned buildings, by the streets or by the so-called fire- 
proof buildings. 

Minor explosions, however, did much to hamper the effi- 
cacy of the department, 152 whiskey barrels, for instance, 
caught fire and burst, flooding the street with burning spirit 
and causing indirectly the destruction of three pieces of 
apparatus. It may be here mentioned that valuable assist- 
ance was rendered by volunteers, numbering some two 



GREAT FIRES HOW THEY WERE FOUGHT 129 

hundred, who extinguished a large number of subsidiary 
fires started by burning brands. 

In quarters not in the direct path of the wind some suc- 
cesses were registered and served to cheer the drooping 
spirits of the fighters. On the west side of Liberty Street, 
and even in the vicinity of the Hurst Building, a strong 
force concentrated to windward succeeded in saving a large 
shirt factory, keeping the temperature down to a point 
where the automatic sprinklers were not called into 
play. Subsequently that system certainly proved its value. 
The drygoods store of O'Neil & Co., the entire in- 
terior of which was provided with that apparatus, was 
threatened with destruction, the roof boards being ignited 
owing to their tin sheathing becoming red hot. Fif- 
teen sprinkler heads opened and prevented that fire from 
spreading. 

Another notable instance of successful defense was that 
made by a third wholesale drygoods house, the Lloyd Jack- 
son Co., situated at the southeast corner of Liberty and 
Lombard Streets. Owners and employees put up a stiff 
fight, kept the roofs wet by hose streams from their private 
fire pump, and hung blankets soaked with water over the 
cornices. At the same time water was pumped into the 
sprinkler supply tank above the roof until it overflowed, 
when, by plugging up the roof drain pipes, the water was 
forced to run over the cornice and thus formed a "water 
curtain" down the north front of the building. A large 
amount of glass was broken, but there was practically no 
damage to the interior. 

Perhaps the most dramatic scenes were enacted in the 
neighbourhood of the docks, where, as already stated, the 
out-of-town departments were able to find full scope for 
their services. No one lacked for employment. In the river 
tugs of all sizes dashed in and out amongst the shipping, 
towing to safety great vessels and their valuable cargoes, 
whose charterers or agents had visions of their entire de- 
struction. Rescue had come none too soon, for the decks 
of many had grown so hot that it was agony for the sailors 



I 3 o FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

to tread their scorched surfaces, while the paint on funnels 
and sides blistered and peeled off in flakes. 

A North German Lloyd cargo steamer making its 
way slowly up the bay, was confronted with the 
spectacle of what would have awaited it, had it 
docked a few hours earlier, and anchored hurried- 
ly at a safe distance. One busy tug was the means 
of rescuing the President of the C. A. Gambril Co., whose 
offices were behind the fruit wharves. Absorbed in saving 
his books, he had not observed that his way to the street 
was cut off by the advancing flames until he reached the 
door. His only hope now lay in the docks, which were al- 
ready in a precarious state, and clutching his treasures 
under his arms, he ran at full speed along the wharf's edge 
searching with anxious eyes for a boat and even meditating 
the final arbitrament of the water below him. Fortunately 
his plight was noticed, and he was dragged on to the tug 
none the worse for his adventure. 

And now occurred the first notable victory of men 
against fire in this portion of the city. Had the 
flames succeeded in involving Denmead's malt house, 
not all the fire departments in America could have 
stemmed the tidal wave of destruction which would have 
ensued, and it is to the credit of the fire-boat "Cataract" 
that this catastrophe was averted. Aided by companies on 
land, she fought the oncoming conflagration with grim de- 
termination until the safety of the malt house was assured. 
By this time, thirty-six companies, a police boat and two 
tugs had concentrated all their force in the vicinity of Jones 
Falls, a little dirty, bad smelling stream, which had never 
served a useful purpose, and which the municipality had 
proposed filling in owing to its insanitary condition. There 
city stood by city, Wilmington by Chester, York by Wash- 
ington, Baltimore by Philadelphia and New York, which 
had arrived late upon the scene but was doing yeoman's 
service. Five firemen on the roof of one building had a 
narrow escape. Working like demons to save the adjoining 
houses they heard shouts of warning from their comrades 



GREAT FIRES HOW THEY WERE FOUGHT 131 

in the street, and to their dismay saw the flames beneath 
them. A tall telegraph pole, which fortunately rose to the 
height of the roof, on which they stood, was the only means 
of escape from the furnace, which they could hear roaring 
below them. Reaching a tin gutter, which afforded them' 
some hold, they, one by one, clutched the pole and slid to 
the ground, the roof on which they had stood falling in be- 
fore the last man had once again his feet on solid earth. 
Around the lumber yards on either side of Jones Falls, 
steam and smoke rose in such clouds that day was turned 
into night and firemen struggled along in practical dark- 
ness. 

At length the united efforts of all the fire departments 
were beginning to tell and the final struggle for supremacy 
was short and decisive. A minor fire had been started by 
sparks in a woodyard across the falls, and for a moment it 
seemed as though past efforts were to be obliterated in this 
new development. But Baltimore and Chester faced it un- 
dismayed and human skill triumphed over its deadly enemy. 
From that time on it was a comparatively easy matter to 
confine the fire to the limits which it had already reached, 
and the last flames were extinguished towards the evening 
of that exhausting day. 

New York long cherished a souvenir of the event 
in the shape of a stray dog which adopted engine 
"16" as its foster father and followed it faithfully through 
the streets all day. It accompanied the crew on their re- 
turn and made itself perfectly at home in its new surround- 
ings, responding to its name of "Baltimore" as though it 
had never known any other. 

It is estimated that the temperature of the fire was rarely 
much in excess of 2,200 degrees Fahr., although in some 
spots it seems to have been approximately 2,800 degrees or 
more. According to various estimates the most intense 
heat in the fire-resistive buildings lasted from 30 to 60 
minutes, varying with the amount of combustible contents, 
exposure and other features. Cast-iron radiators and type- 
writer frames were found in some places almost completely 



i 3 2 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

destroyed by oxidation, but had melted in a few cases only. 
Wired glass melted in a number of instances. In contra- 
distinction to ordinary fires in individual buildings, which 
usually spread vertically from floor to floor, this conflagra- 
tion was essentially a horizontal fire as regards its attack 
and progress in each building. As a rule every story was 
ignited simultaneously through the exterior windows, and 
the fire swept across the building and out at the opposite 
side. Under such conditions the protection of floor open- 
ings will avail but little if the windows are unprotected. 

Vaults made of brick walls built up from the ground, 
especially those having double walls with an air space be- 
tween, made a remarkably good showing when provided 
with double iron doors, the outer ones being filled with 
about four inches of cement for insulation against heat. 
Vaults made of ordinary terra cotta tiles about five inches 
thick, and carried on the floors and structural frame, failed 
in a number of cases, owing to the fact that the tile was 
fragile and was cracked or broken by the heat. About 25 
per cent, of the contents of the tile vaults was destroyed. 
Some of these tiled vaults also had double doors, each made 
of a single thickness of sheet steel with no insulation 
against heat. In a number of cases the inner door was left 
open, and the heat which radiated through the outer one 
destroyed the contents. Portable safes fared badly, ap- 
proximately 65 per cent, of their contents having been de- 
stroyed. This was true of all makes of such safes, whether 
insulated with cushions of concrete or not. 

It is a curious fact that the low bank buildings, on ac- 
count apparently of their small height and in some cases 
sheltered position, usually escaped the maximum heat of 
the general conflagration and did not receive an extreme 
fire test. As a rule, they were partially wrecked by falling 
walls of higher buildings. A group of high office buildings 
of steel and terra cotta tile construction were typical of 
what may be expected from structures of this type, and it 
is interesting to note that the damage was generally great- 
est in the stories above the first. Notwithstanding the fact 



GREAT FIRES HOW THEY WERE FOUGHT 133 

that practically no water was used by the fire department 
in any of these buildings, the basements and, in some cases, 
the first stories were, to all intents and purposes, untouched, 
although the floors above were completely burnt out. Even 
the wooden nailing strips, which were embedded in cinder 
concrete below the top flooring, were entirely destroyed. 

It was also specially noticeable that, although the con- 
flagration attacked the fire-resistive buildings with great 
severity, the largest damage to the interiors was due to the 
fires in the buildings themselves. The damage was appre- 
ciably greatest where there had been a considerable amount 
of combustible material in storage. Even the severest in- 
jury to the exterior finish of the walls occurred over the 
windows on the leeward side, when the fire came from 
within. 

Such was the great fire of Baltimore, the effects of which 
staggered the insurance companies of two continents and 
sent not a few into liquidation. But, as is often the case, in 
such events, it brought in its train fresh channels of thought 
anent fire control, while the energy and enterprise of its 
citizens has quickly obliterated all signs of the lamentable 
occurrence. Without going too deeply into problems which 
are dealt with in general elsewhere, there is one point that 
must make appeal to even the veriest tyro on fires and their 
fighting; namely, that Ovid when he penned the lines 

"Beginnings check; 
Too late is physic sought" 

was giving the world in epitomized form the very key to 
the mastery of success against flames. 

The writer must plead the indulgence of his readers if, in 
describing the great fire which destroyed the Equitable 
Building in New York, the narrative is related in the first 
person. Owing to the fact that he was so intimately asso- 
ciated with the events of that memorable occasion, to deal 
with it otherwise would be impossible, having due regard 
for the interests involved. 



134 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

At 5 155 on the morning of January 9, 1912, the gong in 
my quarters struck 2-2-24, which indicated a second alarm 
from station 24, at the corner of Nassau and Pine Streets. 
Two minutes sufficed for me to cover the distance of about 
one and a half miles between my quarters and the scene of 
the outbreak, which proved to be in the Equitable Life 
Assurance Building. This was an oldish structure, eight 
stories in height and occupying the whole block, bounded 
on the north by Cedar Street, on the south by Pine Street, 
on the east by Nassau Street, and on the west by Broadway. 
The three first-mentioned thoroughfares were extremely 
narrow and contained buildings of considerable height, 
though some of them were of antique construction and 
doubtful fire resistance. On entering from Pine Street, I 
ascended the main stairway to the fourth floor, whence 
looking up I could see that a considerable area of the stories 
above was involved. 

I immediately directed my first aide, Lieutenant 
Rankin, to send out a third alarm, and then pro- 
ceeded to the fifth floor, where I met Acting Deputy- 
Chief Devanny, the officer in command previous to my ar- 
rival. Subordinate to him, and directing the companies, 
were Battalion Chiefs W. J. Walsh and George Kuss. One 
glance at the situation sufficed to impress me with the great 
battle ahead, and at once I ordered a fourth alarm with a 
special call for water tower No. 2. Water tower No. i, 
which had responded on the first alarm, was already raised 
on the Pine Street side of the building. I returned to the 
street with a full grasp of the conditions to be met. A 
sixty-mile gale was blowing with the thermometer near 
zero. The direction of the wind was W. S. W., and I fore- 
saw that it would drive the fire towards Nassau Street, 
where several old buildings, such as the Mutual Life and 
the Fourth National Bank, lay directly in its path. At this 
point Nassau Street is only 47 feet wide, and should the 
flames have swept the buildings to the east, under existing 
weather conditions, an uncontrollable conflagration would 
have resulted. To protect this point, therefore, was the 



GREAT FIRES HOW THEY WERE FOUGHT 135 

first manoeuvre and the reason for acquiring an additional 
water tower. 

The second alarm assignment reported to me on my 
return to Pine Street and Broadway, and Acting 
Chief Kelly, of the 3rd Battalion, was immediately ordered 
to take command in Nassau Street. Engine companies were 
assigned to him and ordered to take their lines to the roof 
of the Fourth National Bank to drive the fire back when 
it broke through the eastern wall of the building, as was 
plainly evident would soon occur. Captain Henry, Super- 
vising Engineer, was directed to meet water tower No. 2 
on its arrival and have it placed in Nassau Street directly 
in line with the centre of the Equitable, connecting it with 
the high-pressure hydrants in Maiden Lane, and to order 
the high-pressure pumps started at a pressure of 200 
pounds. This was done to reinforce the lines on the roof 
of the Fourth National Bank. 

It may seem to the layman that the transmitting of the 
alarms, the assignment of companies and the hundreds 
of orders consequent thereon would take an appreciable 
length of time. Yet, from the moment the gong struck in 
my room until all arrangements had been perfected, exactly 
six minutes had elapsed. The actual plan of battle was 
evolved in less than 30 seconds after my arrival, and from 
that plan I never deviated. 

Knowing the construction of the building, with its four 
entrances and corridors leading therefrom to a great 
central staircase, it seemed doubtful from the first 
whether the blaze could be conquered, but the motto 
of the department under my command has ever been, 
"Fight to a finish," and hence we endeavoured to outflank 
the fire by working from the staircase to windward, i. e., 
towards Broadway on the Cedar Street side of the building. 
Similar tactics were employed towards Nassau Street to 
confine the fire to the Pine Street side, between the streams 
directed by the twelve companies in the interior and the 
heavy volume of water from the lines placed on the upper 
floors of the buildings on the south of Pine Street. Such 



i 3 6 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

was the first line of attack, and a second line was at once 
provided by the companies in Nassau Street and the tower 
stationed there. It is my deliberate opinion that the in- 
terior dispositions of the forces at my disposal would cer- 
tainly have been sufficient, and have succeeded in quelling 
the fire, while the regrettable loss of life which followed 
would have been avoided, had it not been for the criminal 
weakness of the iron columns supporting so heavy a roof 
as that which surmounted the Equitable Building. 

The report of the New York Board of Underwriters on 
the subject is as follows: 

"The columns appear to have been very defective, due to 
the shifting of the core during casting, making one side of 
column very much thinner than the other. . . . Their con- 
dition indicates beyond much doubt that the initial collapse 
in each case was due to the failure of one or more cast iron 
columns." 

Thoroughly mindful of this circumstance, I ordered 
every person but the firemen from the premises. At the 
moment there were hundreds of cleaners and other people 
within its walls, absolutely ignorant of any danger, as in- 
deed to the ordinary observer there were no untoward 
signs, and only trained experts could detect the presence 
of peril. It is a matter of considerable difficulty to per- 
suade persons, who fancy they have business, to leave their 
occupations and vacate their offices under such circum- 
stances, and some time elapsed before the police reported 
to me that all but the firemen had been ejected. Alas, there 
were several who never obeyed the summons, as subsequent 
events were only too clearly to show. The fight now con- 
tinued with increased persistence. I inspected Nassau and 
Cedar Streets, which, being to leeward, gave me some 
anxiety. 

Returning to the Pine Street corner of Broadway, I 
watched for a few moments the battle which was being 
brilliantly fought. Never did men struggle harder or with 
greater intelligence; every order was promptly executed, 
but notwithstanding the stubborn attack from both within 



GREAT FIRES HOW THEY WERE FOUGHT 137 

and without, I could see that the fire was slowly gaining. 
Until now my reports from inside had been favourable, but 
judging from external conditions I had grave doubts as to 
whether the officer in charge of those forces had correctly 
gauged the situation. It was this which determined me to 
make another inspection in order to satisfy myself. Ac- 
companied by Lieutenant Rankin and Firemen Henry and 
Blessing, I proceeded to the 4th, 5th and 6th floors. Chief 
Walsh was in command on the 4th floor, and Chiefs Kuss 
and Devanny on those above. Chief Walsh was confident 
that he could drive the fire back and confine it to the Pine 
Street side. It must be emphasized that the conditions were 
good ; very little smoke to weaken the men being observable, 
as it was driven eastward by the fierceness of the gale. 
Followed by my aides I returned to Pine Street, where I 
found that the granite trimmings on the dormer windows of 
the upper floors were beginning to fly. This told me at 
once of the intense heat which must be surrounding the 
unprotected iron columns of which mention has been made, 
and, in consequence, I ordered all companies to back down 
and out of the building. 

A most critical stage of the fire had now been 
reached. I knew well that within a few minutes 
of the companies inside the building shutting off 
their streams the fire would gain complete mastery; hence 
the problem was to get the men out and into position with 
the second line of attack which had now become defense. 
It is an axiom of warfare that an advance is easier to con- 
duct than a retreat. With such a furious and destructive 
enemy as fire, the task is even more hazardous. Thus it 
was obvious that the companies on the upper floors should 
go first, while their comrades on the lower floors, and in 
less exposed positions, held the flames in check and covered 
them with their streams. As soon as the latter were shut 
off the fire burst through with increased fury, but was met 
and checked by the lines in the surrounding buildings re- 
inforced by the Nassau Street water tower. 

As a further precaution the Pine Street tower was 



138 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

moved to the corner of the former street, ready to en- 
filade the fire and throw a complete water curtain across 
Nassau Street in front of the Fourth National Bank, 
should such a manoeuvre become necessary. The time 
was now 6.28 A.M., and I turned in a fifth alarm and 
ordered an additional 25 pounds on the high-pressure 
system. I had now 23 engine companies, 6 hook 
and ladder companies, 2 water towers and a force of 275 
officers and men. Lieutenant Rankin was despatched with 
a second order that the men in the Equitable should back 
down and get out with all speed, bringing their lines to the 
Nassau and Cedar Street side, which was the quarter by far 
the most dangerously exposed. All companies had now 
reached the main staircase, except Engine Company 4 and 
a few men from hook and ladder i, who, under the direc- 
tion of Battalion Chief Walsh, were fighting obstinately 
and receding inch by inch. For the third time I sent an 
order, adding that it was imperative that he and his men 
should abandon their position, which had become untenable, 
and leave their line. 

Walsh received the message, but his sense of se- 
curity, coupled with a desire to have one last bout with 
his foe, caused the delay which brought him death. A 
portion of the roof on the south side collapsed, forcing out 
part of the wall of the inner court and burying the steps 
down which the last men were hurrying. Before this catas- 
trophe had occurred the companies who had responded on 
the fifth alarm had been assigned positions in the buildings 
on the east and north, where they connected to the stand- 
pipes and threw powerful streams into the upper floors of 
the burning structure. Their efforts were successful, and 
at this point the flames were held in check. 

Captain Farley, of Hook and Ladder 8, now 
reported to me that he and his men had removed 
Captain Bass and some members of Engine Com- 
pany 4 and Hook and Ladder i from the collapsed 
part of the building. I then ordered a roll-call and 
discovered that Battalion Chief Walsh was missing. A 




EQUITABLE FIRE, CORNER OF BROADWAY AND CEDAR STREET. 



GREAT FIRES HOW THEY WERE FOUGHT 139 

search party was instituted to rescue him, but failed in the 
attempt. I learned that as Chief Walsh was about to de- 
scend the stairs to the third floor the unmistakable rumble 
of falling walls warned him of his danger. Had he re- 
mained where he was he would have been unscathed, but 
he sprang over the rail and dashed towards a door on the 
left leading to Nassau Street. Could he have reached it he 
would have cheated fate, as did two of his comrades; but 
he was buried in the wreckage within two feet of safety. 
Never have I known a man more enthusiastically devoted 
to his calling; it was the breath of his existence. Brave 
as a lion, and loving a fight for its own sake, he constantly 
studied to increase his technical skill. It was my knowledge 
of the man, of his bulldog grit and determination to con- 
quer or die, that caused me to be so insistent in my com- 
mands to him to leave his post of danger. His heroic spirit 
was shown in his last action. Aware of the peril, he called 
to Captain Bass, of Engine Company 4, "Go at once. Save 
yourself and your men," and he remained to add one more 
name to the roll of those who have died nobly in harness. 
It was now that the full force of the millions of gallons 
of water began to tell. The water tower in Nassau Street 
was sending forth a heavy stream through the two-inch 
mast nozzle at a pressure of 120 pounds to the square inch, 
supplied by the high-pressure main in Maiden Lane. This 
was directed against the flames roaring through the Law- 
yers' Club on the fourth floor, while from the roof of the 
bank across Nassau Street, Acting Battalion Chief Kelly 
was performing admirable service. On the south, Battalion 
Chief Rush had availed himself of the stand-pipes in the 
buildings and was using our steamers in conjunction with 
the house pumps, thus being able to obtain a considerable 
pressure. The same plan was carried into effect in Cedar 
Street, and every exposed point was covered on all sides. 
I was congratulating myself that we were masters of the 
situation when the fury of the gale increased. Gusts of 
wind, attaining a velocity of seventy miles an hour, swept 
across the open space formed by Trinity graveyard at the 



i 4 o FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

southwest side of Broadway, and the mercury fell steadily 
and remorselessly. So intense became the cold that drip- 
ping walls turned to ice and the streets were frozen lakes, 
while enormous volumes of water were turned to spray by 
the wind a few feet from the nozzle. Men were repeatedly 
thrown down in their efforts to cross the path of this hurri- 
cane, and I myself was taken from my feet not once but 
twenty times, and dashed against the wall of the building 
where I stood. The Equitable now resembled a volcano in 
eruption. Great masses of granite from its walls were 
being tossed high in the air like thistledown and exploding 
a hundred feet above our heads from the intense heat, their 
fragments falling in meteoric showers about us. A great 
section of the outer wall burst near the corner of Pine 
Street and Broadway, and a piece of stone weighing several 
tons fell near Mr. Robert Mainzer, with whom I had been 
speaking, missing him by only a few inches. I then closed 
that side of Pine Street, even forbidding firemen to pass 
along it. The intense cold seemed to give the flames a 
peculiar glow, while the high wind spread them fanwise, 
flickering and beckoning over the ice-bound streets. There 
comes a time in a fire of this description, which marks the 
beginning of the end. If outside exposures are properly 
protected there can be no possibility of any increase in the 
conflagration, and it will be confined to the smallest possible 
space. Then one of two things will occur; either the con- 
tents of the building will burn out, leaving no food for the 
flames ; or it will fall. Should this latter contingency seem 
imminent, men must be kept at a safe distance from the 
walls, and judgment must be used to determine what is the 
limit of danger. Sometimes a wall will fall outwards at 
full length as though on hinges, covering the width of a 
street; then again it will collapse, break in the middle and 
fall in a heap like a house of cards. Needless to say, the 
first of these two conditions is the most dangerous in all 
respects, and must be guarded against at any hazard. In 
the event of a simple collapse the fire has then passed the 
crisis, and as soon as this occurs men can immediately be 



GREAT FIRES HOW THEY WERE FOUGHT 141 

advanced to close range without special danger. The roof 
and floors of the Equitable Building were heavy, and the 
intensity of the heat was so great that I feared it would 
expand and force the outer walls. Under such weather 
conditions as existed, and in the narrow streets, this would 
have been a serious matter, and every nerve was strained 
to its utmost to drive the fire back and to hold it in the 
centre of the building. This attempt was crowned with 
success, due not only to the powerful apparatus at my dis- 
posal, but to the intelligent and, in many cases, brilliant 
operations of both officers and men. 

A fire chief can never tell what may happen from one 
minute to the next, and fires bring many surprises in their 
train which call for quick action of mind and body on the 
part of the officer in command. This day was to prove no 
exception to the rule. Just as I felt that the fight was won, 
and was expecting an inward collapse of the floors on the 
Broadway side of the building, word was brought that three 
men were on the roof overlooking that street and calling 
piteously for help. After all my efforts to clear the build- 
ing it seemed impossible that anyone could have remained 
within its precincts. And yet these poor cleaners and por- 
ters had defied a command and had pitted their judgment 
against scientific knowledge, with the result that they had 
been driven to the roof, where we could see them standing. 
To reach them on that spot over 100 feet from the ground, 
when the possibility of a collapse had become imminent, 
was a task to test the nerves of the strongest and the bravest 
of men. That an attempt at rescue was fraught with great 
danger to all concerned I had not the slightest doubt, but 
it is the duty of men on such occasions to brave death and 
even to defy it. All chances were against them. Momen- 
tarily I was expecting an avalanche of bricks, stone and 
burning embers; the fierce gale swept strong men from 
their feet, and the spray from the nozzles froze on their 
faces until they could scarcely see. In spite of these con- 
ditions the men responded to my call without hesitation. 
A hook and ladder truck was swung in on the northwest 



142 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

corner of Cedar Street, and in less than one minute the 
extension ladder had been raised. As I stood at its foot I 
did not have a chance to ask for volunteers or to order any 
men to this terrible duty. On the instant Lieutenant Ran- 
kin, Firemen Molloy and Blessing sprang on the rungs, 
taking scaling ladders with them. In the meantime I could 
see that it would be a most difficult undertaking to scale 
the Equitable Building on account of the projecting cornice, 
and I therefore ordered Acting Chief Kelly and the offi- 
cers and men of Hook and Ladder i to proceed to the ninth 
floor of the building on the north side of Cedar Street with 
the gun, roof rope and life line. If the line could be shot 
true against such a gale it might serve two purposes, for it 
would be ready for use by the men ascending the ladder, or, 
if this attempt failed, the captives could make the line fast 
to some projection and slide down to possible safety. The 
shot was aimed and the line fell true. We could see the 
men in the act of hauling it across the space when the ex- 
pected" happened. The great collapse came. With a cry of 
agony and despair the unfortunates sprang out into the air, 
and as they plunged downwards there came with them the 
roof and upper floors. From my position I at first thought 
the bodies were those of the brave fellows who had so 
nobly gone to the rescue, and though they struck the street 
a few feet from where I stood, and though fire, smoke and 
debris were on all sides, for an instant I felt indifferent to 
my own fate. Then I realized that other lives and vast 
treasures were at stake, and that at this moment my life 
was of value to the city. 

Turning around, I walked slowly to the centre of 
Broadway, and from this point I could see that 
the men who had ascended the ladder were alive. 
Blessing was on the ladder, Rankin had one foot on the 
ledge, and Molloy was standing on the highest ledge of the 
broken and badly bulging wall. Their efforts had been in 
vain, but heroism could have been put to no greater test. 
My relief was great when I saw them descend unhurt. And 
now horror succeeded horror with incredible rapidity. 



GREAT FIRES HOW THEY WERE FOUGHT 143 

Scarcely had the unfortunate creatures who had jumped 
from the roof been .removed from the street, when Fire 
Commissioner Johnson told me that he had been informed 
that there were men imprisoned in the .vaults on 
the Broadway side. The windows of these vaults 
were protected by bars of iron two inches in thickness, and 
were inset at such close intervals that no human body could 
possibly pass between them. I soon found that this in- 
formation was correct, for there, caught in a fiery prison, 
were three men; two living, pinned down by broken floor 
joists, and one dead, killed by a falling beam. With a rag- 
ing fire behind them, a raging fire over them, heavy iron 
bars in front, and broken and tottering walls on every side, 
their predicament was a terrible one. 

"Save them, save them," was the cry from men 
who stood at a distance. But this seemed to be 
impossible. I directed two companies with sledges 
and other heavy tools to try and wrench the bars. 
In addition, though scarcely to be mentioned in 
comparison with these precious lives, there was a billion 
dollars' worth of security in the vaults, and the fire threat- 
ened both with speedy destruction. Fully realizing the 
gravity of the conditions, and wishing to obtain a better 
view of the situation, I took the elevator to the eighteenth 
floor of the Trinity Building directly across Broadway. 
When I reached the front window overlooking the Equit- 
able an awe-inspiring scene met my gaze. Beneath me lay 
a seething, boiling cauldron. The very earth seemed to 
vomit forth flames and send up from its depths mammoth 
tongues of fire. Parts of chairs, desks and boards were 
being hurled like pebbles five hundred feet into the air. 
Only the pen of Dante or the brush of Verestchagin could 
do it justice. But the question for me to decide was 
whether the Broadway front would hold, or whether it 
would collapse burying the entombed men and the com- 
panies trying to effect their rescue. After careful survey I 
determined that the walls would stand, but to ensure this I 
ordered that a strong stream of water from the Trinity 



144 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

Building be employed to reduce the expansion by forcing 
the fire back at this point. 

About this time I resolved to transmit the bor- 
ough call, feeling that additional aid was necessary prop- 
erly to protect the vaults and the men imprisoned therein. 
It was also advisable to have a greater number of powerful 
streams on the leeward side of the fire, although up to this 
time I had been able to hold it in check. Now the time 
seemed to have arrived for an advance, and this my lines 
were unable to accomplish. All these conditions made the 
borough call a necessity, and the alarm 7-7-24-3-3-39 was 
transmitted. Translated into plain English this meant that 
the companies assigned to respond on the third alarm to 
Box 39, Borough of Brooklyn, would proceed to Box 24, 
Borough of Manhattan. 

The Brooklyn companies arrived promptly in charge of 
Deputy Chief Lally, and were assigned to positions with 
the exception of the water tower, which was not needed 
and was sent back to quarters. Two engines were connect- 
ed to the Siamese inlet on the front of the Trinity Building 
and 2 YZ -inch lines of hose attached to the stand-pipe out- 
lets on the 7th, 8th, 9th and loth floors. These were all 
stretched to the 8th floor and connected in pairs by means 
of 2j^- to 3-inch Siamese, then a length of 3-inch hose was 
connected to each of these, and in turn to a 3-inch Siamese 
Leading from this was a length of 3-inch hose having a 
I y% -inch nozzle. This provided a pressure of 130 pound* 
at the nozzle, with 260 pounds on each engine, and had less 
friction than if any other method had been employed. 

Now began the battle for life and treasure. Hack-saw: 
were procured, and for almost an hour Engineer Larke 
assisted by Rankin, Henry and others, sawed at the bars 
while great masses of stone fell from the upper stories 
around the workers. One great fragment rebounded anc 
struck Larke in the back, almost paralyzing him. Rankii 
now took the hack-saw and cut through the remaining 
bars, so that ropes could be attached and the opening suffi- 
ciently enlarged to admit of the passage of a body. 



GREAT FIRES HOW THEY WERE FOUGHT 145 

One of the men was taken out suffering from smoke, 
exposure and shock. But the other cried, "For God's sake 
don't leave me, my arm is fast!" Upon examination, it 
was found that his arm was pinned across the back of the 
dead man by two iron beams, and for 15 minutes Henry 
and his comrades, using crowbars, pried and pulled, assisted 
by the man himself, before his release was effected. When 
free he collapsed, and was taken across Broadway, where 
he joined his companion under the care of Dr. H. M. 
Archer, who gave them every attention that humanity and 
science could suggest. 

By this time the fire was well under control on the north 
and east, and all danger of its crossing Cedar and Nassau 
Streets had passed. I now called a boat tender and 
stretched 3^ -inch hose from the high-pressure hydrants 
to the Broadway front of the building. Three-inch lines 
were also taken from the water tower into the Cedar Street 
buildings opposite the vaults and company lines were 
siamesed in order that heavier streams could be forced 
against the gale which still increased. This method was in 
operation on the roof of the Clearing House, where it was 
most effective. 

A peculiar phenomenon of this fire was that it worked 
steadily to windward against the furious gale, and it seemed 
as though determined to destroy the enormous wealth con- 
tained in the vaults. All our forces were now concentrated 
to prevent such a catastrophe and also to prevent the crema- 
tion of the lifeless companion of the two men we had res- 
cued. Owing to the magnitude of our attack the securities 
were untouched and unharmed, the walls, which were 
badly cracked and out of plumb, remained standing, and 
the corpse was not incinerated. Cautiously we now closed 
in and the fight was over. There is one incident which I 
must mention, as it serves to show the hold sport maintains 
upon its votaries even in moments of the greatest strain. 
Mr. August Belmont came to me and asked permission to 
go through his offices, which, facing the east had to a large 
extent escaped the great damage experienced elsewhere. 



146 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

I personally went with him through the ruins of his once 
beautiful suite of business premises, now sadly spoiled by 
water and fire. He then explained to me that his chief 
fear was lest harm should have come to the records and 
pedigrees of his horses, which of course are famous not 
only in America but wherever racing is popular. I am 
happy to say that I found them intact, and with a smile 
he tucked them under his arm and bade me a cheery 
good-day. 

Another fact which I take pride in recalling was that 
of the gallantry shown by Father Joseph P. Dineen, who, 
at the risk of his life, conveyed the Sacrament to one of 
the men afterwards rescued from the vault, this at a 
moment when all onlookers feared the worst, and no man 
would have been considered a coward for hesitating. 
Some idea of the magnitude of the operations can be 
gleaned from the following statistics. Eighty-five officers 
and about five hundred men operated thirty-one steam 
engines, ten hook and ladder trucks, two water towers, and 
superintended the high pressure service, while the water 
used in the attack amounted approximately to twelve mil- 
lion gallons. During the progress of the fire, all business 
in Wall street was suspended and anxiety reigned in twc 
continents as to the fate of the billion dollars' worth oi 
securities in the strong rooms. It speaks volumes for the 
skill of the fire-fighters that not one dollar's worth of dam- 
age was done in that direction and that when recovered the 
papers were not even discoloured. The outstanding fea- 
tures of this remarkable fire were the tremendous value 
of the property at stake, the extraordinary climatic con- 
ditions, and the possibility of the spread of the flames : 
which would have caused a disaster unparalleled in the an- 
nals of history, so stupendous would have been th financial 
loss. 

In addition to this, the construction of the building con- 
cerned was something of a revelation to all thinking per- 
sons; for the weakness of the columns supporting the roof 
was so glaringly apparent even to the lay mind that those 




Ni. 




GREAT FIRES HOW THEY WERE FOUGHT 147 

responsible for its erection must have been either hopeless- 
ly incompetent or criminally careless. Further, owing to 
the age of the structure and the idiosyncrasies of some of 
its tenants, it was a literal rabbit warren of private stair- 
cases ending in cul-de-sacs and narrow passages leading 
nowhere in particular. The only marvel, in fact, appears 
to have been that the loss of life was not greater, for it 
was only too easy for the firemen operating to lose their 
way in the intricacy of its mazes. 

I must not fail to compliment the Police Department 
on its excellent work in the keeping of the "Fire Lines," 
this work being exceedingly difficult, owing to the extreme 
exposure and extraordinary conditions prevailing. 

It is pleasant to record that financiers and others of 
wealth and prominence with offices adjacent sufficiently 
recognized the self-sacrificing devotion of the Department 
in subscribing the sum of $185,000, the interest of which 
was to be used in perpetuity for the benefit of widows and 
orphans of firemen and policemen killed in the discharge 
of their duty. 



CHAPTER XI 

GREAT FIRES, AND HOW THEY WERE FOUGHT 

PART II 

THERE occur at intervals in the history of the world, ca- 
lamities occasioned partially by fire of which it is almost im- 
possible to give a concise narrative, or upon which either to 
pass criticism or apportion blame. In other words, when 
fate or destiny, or call it what you will, takes a hand in the 
game, human ingenuity, science, and forethought can only 
play subsidiary roles in dealing the cards. The Baltimore 
fire was destructive of property, the Equitable teemed with 
terrible possibilities and gave scope for the most modern 
fire strategy that probably the world has yet seen, but the 
conflagration in San Francisco formed an upheaval of 
primal elements which, in their magnitude, stand alone in 
history, and yet show that dogged perseverance inborn in 
the fire-fighter, which sooner or later surmounts the greatest 
obstacles. 

On April 17, 1906, San Francisco was one of the 
happiest, grandest, most popular of cities in the United 
States. Within twelve hours a large portion was in ruins, 
within twenty-four it was a mass of belching flames, and 
within thirty-six the lamentations of its inhabitants had 
penetrated to the most remote quarters of the globe. To 
epitomize this ghastly debacle. On Wednesday, April i8th, 
an earthquake shock occurred, doing considerable damage, 
so badly crippling the water mains that, though their supply 
was rated at 36,000,000 gallons a day, not only was the 
fire department unable to obtain the wherewithal with 
which to attack the ensuing fires, but so scarce became this 

148 



GREAT FIRES HOW THEY WERE FOUGHT 149 

necessity of human life that it is credibly reported that at 
one period it was being retailed to thirsty thousands at fab- 
ulous sums per cup. This conflagration destroyed 2,831 
acres of business and dwelling houses, and caused losses to 
the insurance companies concerned of approximately 300,- 
000,000 dollars. Needless to say, it is impossible to deter- 
mine the number, location or causes of the original out- 
breaks. All that can be definitely stated is that the fire 
alarms at headquarters were completely dislocated by the 
earthquake shocks, that the building in question was subse- 
quently burned, that the telephone service became completely 
disorganized and that doubtless many unsuccessful attempts 
were made to apprise the fire department of the need of 
its services. All that can be hazarded is that, within half 
an hour of the commencements of the outbreaks, there must 
have been twelve distinct and separate fires needing atten- 
tion. Roughly, in order to give some idea of the operations 
involved, it may be stated that the centre of the fire zone 
was an eminence known as Nob Hill. Thence one por- 
tion of the city was involved eastwards to the waterfront, 
taking in Chinatown and the Latin Quarter en route; a 
second spread in a southwesterly direction through the busi- 
ness section and menaced the wharves and ferries; while 
the third, originating in the Mission district to the west of 
Nob Hill, burnt its way steadily towards the Union Iron 
Works, where at that time were building two battleships 
for the United States Navy. Before dealing in such 
detail as is possible with the incidental operations of the fire 
department, it may be said that the fire force, including re- 
serves, consisted of some 600 men, 53 engines, 15 ladder 
trucks, 9 chemical engines and 2 fire-boats maintained by 
the Harbour Commissioners. One of the fire-boats had a 
capacity of 1,400 gallons per minute and the other 930, both 
with a water pressure of 150 pounds. Of the 77,000 feet 
of leading hose, nearly 38,000 feet were lost, or over one- 
half ; while 3 engines and a ladder were disabled beyond 
repair. Fire Chief Sullivan was unfortunately injured at 
the outset and died before he had formulated a plan of at- 



150 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

tack. This comprehends the total casualities to men and 
material in the department during the entire conflagration, 
a remarkably small percentage of the whole, and it is a fair 
supposition that had the means of regular communication 
been open and had water been obtainable during the early 
hours of the disaster, and having also due regard for the 
lightness of the wind and its direction, the fire department 
would have obtained control by noon of the first day. 

During the first period, that is to say until Wednesday 
night, the fire appears to have been spasmodic and did not 
possess the nature of a fierce, sweeping blast. The ordinary 
rules of exposure seemed to have prevailed, and a leading 
part was played by familiar factors, such as individual com- 
bustibility, adjacency, opposing openings, short distances 
and excess height. Some notable cases of defense are 
worthy of comment, such as that of the U. S. Mint, an old 
building far behind modern standards of fire resistance. 
Superintendent Leach, of the fire department, rallied his 
men and, assisted by some regular soldiers, beat the fire off 
in a manner worthy of the highest commendation. An- 
other remarkable effort was that made by the employees 
of the Post Office to save that structure. As the flames 
attacked through windows broken by the heat, everything 
igniting was extinguished in detail. The officials fought 
most gallantly, and three days later, when it was possible 
once again to obtain access to the building, eleven postal 
clerks, who had been seventy-two hours without food or 
water, were rescued, together with the whole of the mail 
of which they had been in charge. 

Late in the afternoon, the great twenty-one story 
Spreckels Building ignited, through broken windows 
on the fourth floor, from fires started in two 
small frame buildings adjacent to it. This pro- 
vided one of the most spectacular scenes of the whole 
outbreak. Enormous crowds watched the dull red glow 
mount floor by floor, till it reached the ornate three-tiered 
dome surmounting this edifice. The circular windows 
therein seemed to shine like moons for some moments, then 



GREAT FIRES HOW THEY WERE FOUGHT 151 

followed a thousand spurts of flame as the floors collapsed, 
and, as darkness closed around, men and women wailed 
hysterically thus to see the pride of their city so remorse- 
lessly destroyed. As for the Palace Hotel, its doom 
was sealed early in the afternoon. A fine attempt was 
made by its staff, assisted by some of the guests to 
resist the enemy, but the protection of a hundred 
odd closely attacked and wooden-framed windows and a 
vulnerable roof swamped them, and the hotel was aban- 
doned. 

Shortly after this commenced the extensive use 
of explosives which figured so prominently in this 
conflagration. It is not surprising that men re-"~~ 
duced to helplessness and desperation by lack of 
water should have resorted to what has been proved 
in all modern fires to be useless, and, in the opinion of the 
writer, even harmful. As is usually the case, the explosions 
made no effective gaps and rather served to increase the 
quantity of combustible material. On the other hand, win- 
dows throughout the neighbourhood were shattered, the 
proximity of exploding buildings made it dangerous for 
owners to prosecute individual efforts towards the protec- 
tion of their own property, and it would appear that the 
choice of location for this desperate expedient was both 
haphazard and unintelligent. The situation when Wednes- 
day night arrived is important to realize. Until now the 
rich business district, north of Market Street, and the high- 
class residential area were untouched. It was still possible 
to maintain communication and to conduct organized oppo- 
sition, since the centre of the city was yet habitable. But 
human nature had become exhausted ; questions of life be- 
came paramount to those of property, so that upon the di- 
rection of the wind depended the future. Alas, during the 
evening the breeze, for it was little more, veered southward 
and increased just sufficiently to level the sweep of flame 
and render leeward positions untenable. The huge frame 
of the Mechanics Pavilion was transformed into a roaring 
pyre and the upslope towards Russian Hill perceptibly in- 



152 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

creased the vulnerability of the district. From now on- 
wards the spread of the flames was more rapid, and they 
greedily ate their way along O'Farrell Street devouring in 
turn theatres, hotels, clubs, stores and apartment houses. 
Higher buildings, like the Crocker, felt the blast of the in- 
tense heat in their upper stories and caught fire ahead of 
their time. Fireproof buildings, like the Mills and the Mer- 
chants' Exchange, which during the day had proved bul- 
warks of safety, became involved and towards midnight 
were burning like beacon flares. 

A most desperate stand was now made around the Fair- 
mount Hotel. Sailors from a revenue cutter, assisted by 
firemen, ran a three-quarter mile length of hose from their 
ship to the building, their officers with drawn revolvers im- 
pressing civilian bystanders to act as property savers. But 
all to no purpose, and as the dawn of the second day col- 
oured the eastern horizon it was realized that not only the 
hotel but all the surrounding wealthy residences were 
doomed. During that Thursday morning the wind light- 
ened, and now blew from the east and served to check the 
advance of the flames which threatened the Ferry Building. 
It confronted, however, the defenders with a fresh and even 
more alarming development that of losing the only closely 
inhabited part of the city remaining the section west of 
Van Ness Avenue. In this 1 25-foot street, the most ex- 
traordinary efforts had been resorted to, in a vain attempt 
to stop the ever spreading fires. Beautiful houses were 
blown to atoms by dynamite, while the artillery, belonging 
to the military garrison, had carried on a steady and re- 
morseless bombardment with high explosive shells. The 
neighbourhood was an inferno; above the crackling of the 
flames - resounded the dull boom of bursting shrapnel and 
the cries of terror-stricken men and women, while a canopy 
of green-gray smoke slowly spread upwards marking the 
positions of the targets. Yet all this only served to provide 
fresh fuel for the oncoming conflagration. Some check was 
doubtless afforded by these drastic measures, but the in- 
vader still advanced westward. On the Friday morning, 



II 



5 > 

' as 



si 



II 

R ^ 



o 2 

2 a 




GREAT FIRESHOW THEY WERE FOUGHT 153 

the third day of the fire, the east wind happily dropped and 
was succeeded by a strong westerly breeze which, within 
the course of a few hours, shifted between northwest and 
southwest, the former driving the flames into the Latin 
Quarter and destroying the frame houses comprising it like 
so many dry leaves, and the remarkable sight was wit- 
nessed of thousands of barrels of wine being stove in with 
the vain hope that the liquor might be used to stay the ap- 
proaching cataclysm. Forces concentrated near the Mer- 
chants' Ice and Cold Storage Co., with the assistance of a 
city engine, and using the company's own water supply, at 
this point won a victory over the flames. Individual work 
also saved an isolated and somewhat scattered group of 
high class dwellings on the precipitous summit of Russian 
Hill. The conflagration had thus lasted three days, and on 
the Saturday morning a heavy rain did much to bring the 
situation under control. A few smouldering blazes along 
the east water front occasionally flared up, endangering un- 
burnt structures, but were, however, promptly suppressed. 
Vigorous and effective measures were now taken to prevent 
new outbreaks in the uninjured districts where, owing to 
the earthquake, chimneys, gaspipes and electric wiring were 
generally in an unsafe condition, and where the scant water 
supply rendered the situation most precarious. No time 
was lost in destroying dangerous walls, and it is worthy of 
comment that explosives were again used to an exceptional 
degree in this work, causing unnecessary additional damage 
in some places and, unfortunately, quickly terminating 
many opportunities for distinguishing the true effects of 
the fire. Thus, within the burnt area of 2,831 acres there 
survived in a partially habitable condition: firstly, three 
groups of buildings, i. e., the detached dwellings on Russian 
Hill, some warehouses at the foot of Telegraph Hill and a 
mercantile group near the Custom House. Secondly, one 
factory plant the Western Electric Company. Thirdly, 
three government buildings the Mint, the Post Office and 
the Appraisers Building. Fourthly, two fire-resisting office 
buildings the Hayward, with a three-story building ad- 



154 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

joining, and the Atlas Building, with a two-story structure 
adjacent to it. 

Such is a brief description of the conflagration which 
devastated San Francisco and necessitated without exag- 
geration the foundation of a new city. The narrative has 
been shorn of anything that might detract from a realiza- 
tion of the factors which governed the actual situation, 
though naturally it goes without saying that incidents of 
interest, humorous, pathetic and tragic abound. 

As in all great crises, the behaviour of those concerned 
varied according to temperament and circumstance, but, 
generally speaking, there was little real panic, and on all 
sides was observable a tendency to make the best of things 
and incidentally to help others to do likewise. At first peo- 
ple were so stunned that they scarcely realized what was 
passing, as was evidenced by one stranger to the town, who, 
making his way to safety, was accosted by a rough who 
demanded his purse. He surrendered it without demur, but 
the hold-up had been observed by an officer in command of 
some soldiers. Martial law having been declared, the thief 
was shot dead on sight. Afterwards, being asked to give 
evidence regarding the shooting, the victim of the assault 
was found to have forgotten everything about it and re- 
marked that he was so bewildered that anything seemed 
quite natural. This curious mental effect was by no means 
uncommon, and no doubt indirectly exerted an influence 
against any access of unreasoning and overwhelming ter- 
ror which would have rendered the exertions of the au- 
thorities practically abortive. A story, dramatic in its sheer 
horror, was related by a doctor who reported that he had 
found a man pinned under debris and suffering the most 
horrible torture, the while calling loudly for some one to 
put him out of his misery. After consultation, a police 
officer drew his revolver and fired at the sufferer, but being 
presumably unnerved, the shot went wide of its mark. The 
doctor was then authorized to act, and he accordingly 
opened the arteries in the man's arm, thus assuring him a 
speedy release from his agony. Thieves there were, too, in 



GREAT FIRES HOW THEY WERE FOUGHT 155 

plenty, though short shrift was their lot when caught. Fir- 
ing squads patrolled the streets, and these ghouls paid the 
price of their hideous crimes, the hacking of beringed 
fingers from lifeless hands and the like, with their own 
worthless bodies. On the other hand, simple heroism 
could be depicted in no nobler form than the spiritual 
comfort extended to the dying by the ministers of all 
denominations, who worked like slaves at great risk to 
themselves. 

A word of praise must be written anent the pluck and 
never flagging determination shown by all ranks of the fire 
department under the command of Chief Shaughnessey, 
who succeeded Chief Sullivan after the death of the latter. 
The firemen worked for three whole days with such ap- 
paratus as was at hand, and only ceased when compelled so 
to do from physical exhaustion. And, withal, humour was 
not lacking. It so happened that the Metropolitan Opera 
Company, of New York, was fulfilling an engagement in 
the city at the time, and the experiences of its individual 
members would fill a volume. Their worldwide fame, of 
course, aroused the greatest interest in their fates, and it 
was only after some days that public anxiety was allayed 
and it was learnt that no one of their number was the worse 
for the experience. Caruso was a guest at the Palace Hotel 
and only escaped with difficulty. But he accepted the un- 
expected with a philosophy not usually associated with his 
countrymen and, as he sat in the middle of the street upon 
his valise wondering what was coming next, he nonchal- 
antly rolled a cigarette and professed himself as not unduly 
disturbed. Later, in common with everyone else, he was 
compelled to shift for himself, and owed his cordial recep- 
tion by a band of soldiers, who gave him food and lodging, 
to the fact that he was carrying with him a photo of ex- 
President Roosevelt inscribed with the words, "With kind- 
est regards/' This served as a passport, one of the men 
remarking, "If you're Teddy's friend come right in and be 
comfortable/' Caruso afterwards summed up his impres- 
sions in the sentence, "It instantly recalled the horrors of 



i 5 6 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

my native Naples, of which I've been reading. Vesuvius 
in eruption could not have been as horrible." Campanari, 
the great baritone, contented himself by opining that it 
made a change in the monotony of touring, and that he 
found Caruso's pajamas, in which incidentally he had es- 
caped, a bad fit. Rossi, the bass, passed the time by trying 
his voice; while Nahan Franko, one of the conductors, 
risked his life by returning to his hotel in order to save a 
violin he much prized. Madame Sembrich succeeded in 
saving her pearls, reputed to be some of the finest extant, 
but assessed the loss of her wardrobe at $25,000. 
Finally, Alfred Hertz, the musical director, who also helped 
himself to Caruso's garments in the moment of emergency, 
found safety near the zoological gardens, which, owing to 
the roars of the frightened beasts, he declared to be a more 
horrible place than any in the city. 

A fact of more than passing interest, which must strike 
all observers, is the similarity of the results recorded in this 
conflagration to those in the Baltimore outbreak. The lat- 
ter was the first in which modern methods of fire resistance 
received a severe test. There, the water supply was ade- 
quate and the Fire Department well up to the average and 
manipulated with considerable intelligence. There were 
fireproof buildings, most of them of modern construction 
and so situated as to reinforce each other and act, so tc 
speak, as fire-breaks. Yet, the result shewed that in the 
direct sweep of the fire as determined by the direction oi 
the wind, nothing survived except the following: Firstly 
an occasional one or two-story building favourably locatec 
as to shelter or wind currents. Secondly, an occasional 
grade floor in a fire-resistive building and, thirdly, th( 
empty shells of the fireproof buildings themselves, none o\ 
which possessed front window protection. Finally, struc- 
tures on the side borders of the wind sweep, where the ex 
posure was confined to ignition from brands, and where mer 
and apparatus could maintain a working basis and keej 
open their communications. There was also something ir 
the nature of a successful check at Jones Falls, a stream ol 



GREAT FIRES HOW THEY WERE FOUGHT 157 

water of but moderate width, by which engines belonging 
to the New York Fire Department made a determined 
stand. Thus, from past experiences, there was no reason- 
able expectation in San Francisco of the survival of any 
building after the Fire Department was in retreat except 
in cases analogous to those just mentioned. In the main 
this proved correct, with some few exceptions. Within 
the burned section not only did all frame buildings succumb 
but also all brick structures having wooden floor beams, 
whether of good, bad or indifferent construction, and with 
more or less complete ruin in nearly every case with the 
one exception of the Palace Hotel. 

Prominent amongst conclusions which may be formed 
from this disaster, in the opinion of the writer, are the use- 
lessness of explosives as a deterrent measure to the spread 
of flames and the danger to tall buildings from the heat 
engendered by burning structures of a lesser height. The 
former accentuates confusion, causes panic, fosters misun- 
derstandings between municipal and federal authorities, de- 
stroys property which otherwise might conceivably be saved, 
provides fresh fuel for the flames and hence is practically 
worthless as a serious feature in fire-fighting. An excep- 
tion, which may occur, only goes to emphasize the point. 
As regards the latter, this danger was plainly exemplified 
in the occurrences in San Francisco and serves to illustrate 
the care which must be taken in considering the fire-resist- 
ing methods which must receive attention in the modern 
skyscraper, and which are dealt with at length in another 
chapter. 

Suffice it to say that the heat wave generated during the 
climax of the conflagration rose to a height of about 300 
feet above the street level and was directly responsible for 
the ignition of church steeples, skyscrapers and all struc- 
tures of a similar character. Otherwise many old data re- 
ceived confirmation, which have been listed as follows in 
the Underwriter's report upon the conflagration. 
A. The dangerous effect of a number of simultaneous 
fires. 



1 5 8 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

B. The weakening of a fire-fighting force if compelled tc 
thin out over a wide front. 

C. The improbability, with existing methods, of fronta 
resistance to a fire sweep, when the wind velocity ex 
ceeds a certain critical figure. 

D. The special vulnerability of leeward upslopes. 

E. The structural ruin in conflagrations of all wood 
en joist brick buildings where the stability of th< 
walls in any way depends upon the bracing of th< 
beams. 

F. The limited utility in a conflagration of rear and sid< 
shuttering, where front windows remain unprotected 

G. The likelihood of ignition of ordinary roofs, consist 
ing as they do of wooden boards with a thin veneer o: 
tin or other roofing material. 

H. The slight value as conflagration breaks of fireproo: 
buildings, when abandoned. 

I. The possibility of holding buildings even with unpro 
tected openings, provided there are some men, ever 
only a little water and the openings are few. 

J. The structural survival, even without window protec 
tion, and when abandoned, of steel frame building; 
with fireproof floor arches, provided the steel frame i: 
properly encased with fireproof material, the struc 
tural damage being in close proportion to the quality 
of the frame protection. 

K. The greater or lesser destruction in such buildings o: 
all non-structural interior ; heavy spall ing of all kind: 
of facing stone, the injury to ornamental moulding: 
and copings, extensive damage to hollow tile in floo: 
arches and partitions as usually constructed, a markec 
increase of injury where wood finished floors are usec 
over the floor arches, the danger from falling safe; 
where there is loose back filling, the failure of unpro 
tected cast-iron mullions and spandrels in courts anc 
the weakness of roofs carried on unprotected stee 
rafters with suspended ceilings. 
Amongst other important lessons derived from this con 



GREAT FIRES HOW THEY WERE FOUGHT 159 

flagration in the matter of fire-fighting may appropriately 
be noticed the following: 

A. The importance of front as well as rear and side win- 
dow protection, fire-resistant if possible, but at any 
rate, fire-retardant, i. e., wireglass. 

B. The necessity of encouraging individual protection by 
occupants of buildings. 

C. The importance of ample water supply and good pres- 
sure. 

D. The necessity for all fire departments to have a large 
reserve of apparatus and hose. 

E. The importance to fire departments of powerful ap- 
paratus with long range. 

F. The importance of fire-resisting roofs, roof structures 
and of well protected skylights. 

G. The necessity of the adoption of rigid standards for 
column protection. 

H. The importance of good bricklaying and mortar, with 

cement in place of lime. 
J. The importance of efficient protection to the steel 

frames in roof attics. 
K. The importance in partitions of a better bracing of 

tile and the need of fire-retardant transoms as well as 

doors. 

In conclusion, perhaps the writer may be pardoned for 
hazarding the belief that in case of a great conflagration, 
where the military authorities are invited to assist in the 
maintenance of order, every effort should be made to assist 
the Fire Department, and the loss of individual property 
should be subordinated to the public weal, in accordance 
with the expressed opinion of the Fire Chief. Thus the 
policy at San Francisco, by which looting was prevented 
on any large scale by the indiscriminate employment of the 
military who were also responsible for the use of explosives, 
may have saved some thousands of dollars, but this very 
policy was probably accountable for the loss of millions, by 
the way in which the skilled fire-fighters were hampered in 
their movements through official interference, by the un- 



160 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

necessary blocking of important thoroughfares and by th 
fears of bodily harm consequent upon unexpected explc 
sions. 

It would appear as though the American continent pos 
sessed a monopoly of great conflagrations and, in all trutl 
this is in a measure correct, owing to peculiarities of cor 
struction. But Canada supplies an instance of what ma 
happen when the fire department is not equal to the need 
of the situation, which must sometimes occur when th 
building material is chiefly wood. The town of Hull, whic 
is situated on the north bank of the Ottawa River, directl 
opposite the capital of the Dominion, was, until April 2( 
1900, a thriving and prosperous municipality. On the 
spring morning a fire broke out a quarter of a mile fror 
the main street of the little city and, fanned by a fierce gal 
from the northwest, rapidly advanced in the direction of th 
countless lumber mills and other factories from whic 
Hull obtained its prosperity. The population was chiefl 
composed of persons employed in these industries and o 
the heads of the mills in the district, whose houses, althoug 
many of them large, were built of wood. By 11.30 th 
flames had swept across Main Street, and its dozens of cros 
thoroughfares were rendered impassable. The Coui 
House, the Post Office and many churches were destroyec 
and by midnight the interprovincial bridge, connecting Hu 
with Ottawa, was a mass of flame. In the ruins of Hu 
there remained only the Catholic Cathedral with a fe^ 
houses clustered about it, and two factories to mark th 
existence of what had once been a flourishing Industrie 
centre. 

But the flames were unsatisfied. Aided by th 
wind, great masses of burning embers ignited the powe 
houses, street electric and incandescent electric companiei 
buildings on Victoria Island, from whence the wharves o 
Chaudiere Flats, part of Ottawa itself, were within eas 
distance. Here were situated a great number of lumbe 
mills, and the piles of dried timber were the most enticin: 
food for the roaring conflagration that could have bee; 



GREAT FIRES HOW THEY WERE FOUGHT 161 

found. Here also, was located the Canadian Pacific Rail- 
way station, which, being of wood like the other structures, 
offered no resistance to the attack. In fact, so rapid was 
the onrush of the enemy that many fine houses were con- 
sumed in the twinkling of an eye, and before their owners 
were able to save even the smallest proportion of their pos- 
sessions. Montreal and smaller towns in the vicinity of the 
threatened city nobly responded with men and apparatus on 
an appeal for aid, since the outbreak had assumed propor- 
tions far beyond the control of a comparatively small local 
fire department. But even this assistance, combined with 
the efforts of the militia, proved of no avail in the face of 
the tornado of flame, which tore like a whirlwind past every 
obstruction and threatened to transform the Capital of 
Canada into a heap of ashes like its suburb of Hull. 
Rochesterville, a small township, which had been included 
some time previously within the city limits, was rendered a 
desolate waste, and had it not been that the direction of the 
wind mercifully changed to the east, and had it not been 
for the high cliffs which formed an insurmountable barrier 
to the onset, not all the fire departments in Canada could 
have saved the city. Owing to the destruction of the elec- 
tric light supply, the House of Commons, which was then 
sitting, was obliged to adjourn. 

Everything possible was done to provide shelter 
and subsistence for the seven thousand homeless 
people, whose condition was piteous in the extreme. 
Most of them were labourers from the mills, and 
lumber yards who had seen their homes wiped out and their 
occupations taken from them at practically one and the 
same moment. The military drill hall and the exhibition 
buildings were devoted to this charitable purpose, and many 
philanthropists proved themselves worthy of the demands 
made upon them. A curious feature of this disaster was 
the fact that, after the fire had burnt itself out, there re- 
mained no smouldering embers and smoking ruins, but all 
was literally in ashes, so thoroughly had the flames done 
their work. It is also worthy of note that only seven per- 



i62 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

sons met their death, and that no fireman was injured with 
the exception of the Chief of the Hull brigade. The prop- 
erty loss was assessed at $17,000,000 (3,400,000), 
and some idea of the extent of damage in the 
lumber yards alone can be gained from the bare statemenl 
that two hundred million feet of timber was destroyed 
Needless to say, the price of this commodity was mater iall) 
increased and the trade suffered severely. This conflagra- 
tion, it will be observed, was of the same sweeping charactei 
as that of Baltimore, though fought under totally differenl 
circumstances. 

For sheer horror, the disaster at the bazaar in the Rue 
Jean Goujon, Paris, on May 4, 1897, surpasses the wildesl 
dreams of the most morbid fiction writer, and will ever live 
as perpetual reminder to the thoughtless of the uncertaint) 
of existence. Owing to the social prominence of its 
one hundred and fifty victims, this catastrophe 
stands out unique in the annals of great fires. Im- 
agine the elite of a great city, the subscribers tc 
such fashionable organizations as the Opera, the 
Horse Show and, in England, Ascot. Pack them all withir 
a limited area, apply a match and make a bonfire of the 
surroundings and picture the result. These formed the 
patrons at the bazaar in question, when, at 4 P.M. on thai 
day, hundreds of persons were crowding the narrow aislei 
between the stalls decorated to represent the streets of olc 
Paris, and were gazing with interest at the many titled mer 
and women who had offered their services on behalf of c 
well-deserving charity. The building itself was a one-stor} 
wooden structure with a freshly tarred roof, and contained 
draperies and curtains of highly inflammable material. A; 
in most of these instances, the origin of the fire is doubtful 
it may have been caused by the overturning of a spirit lamj 
or the ignition of the illuminating apparatus of a cinemato 
graph which had been installed for the additional amuse- 
ment of the visitors, but all that is definitely known is, thai 
at this hour in the afternoon an explosion took place on th< 
left side of the bazaar. The flames, seizing the hanging! 



GREAT FIRES HOW THEY WERE FOUGHT 163 

and articles exposed for sale, spread rapidly, and the crowd 
instinctively sought the farthest point from danger. Of the 
eight doors, one was on the left, and therefore cut off by 
the flames, three opened on to the Rue Jean Goujon and 
four, located in the rear and used by employees, were un- 
known to the guests. People near the main entrances were 
able to escape with but slight injury, but the great mass of 
humanity surged towards the right wall where there was 
no outlet save a small window heavily barred, which con- 
nected with the Hotel du Palais. Servants in the hotel, who 
had been peering through this opening to obtain a glimpse 
of the gay throng, succeeded in breaking the bars and res- 
cuing a number of the panic-stricken throng, but while so 
doing many were burnt before their eyes. 

The first intimation of the situation to passers-by was a 
rush of semi-nude and maddened women into the adjacent 
streets where instantly all became confusion. Rows of 
stately carriages and humble cabs, whose drivers had been 
awaiting the arrival of their employers, were roused into 
activity by the vision of their shrieking, blood-stained own- 
ers, wildly clamouring to be driven anywhere away from 
the scene of horror. Grooms in the service of the Baron de 
Rothschild, whose stables were nearby, used their hose to 
good purpose in extinguishing the flames enveloping the 
filmy gowns of escaping patrons, and one man, more clear- 
headed than the rest, plunged at full length into a horse 
trough to find relief from his sufferings. Before the fire- 
men could arrive the whole structure was in a blaze and the 
building collapsed even as the engines galloped up. It had 
been known to the authorities that the hall was anything but 
fire-resistant, though being built upon private property they 
had not been able to take any steps in the matter, and it had 
been thought that its dimensions, and the fact that it was 
on the street level, was sufficient guarantee of its security. 

In the meantime rescues had been effected in the interior 
by a few brave priests, who, by means of some ladders, had 
led about thirty persons over the walls of a neighbouring 
convent. But anything in the nature of organized fire-fight- 



i6 4 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

ing was out of the question, the flames having got beyond 
control, and the whole structure resembling nothing so much 
as a giant funeral pyre, which was intensified by the piteous 
moans and cries for help, which no human power could 
give. It is difficult to gather any collected narrative of what 
happened within. In moments such as these impressions 
are fleeting and as elusive as the phantasmagoria of de- 
lirium. But a few episodes remain, illustrative to some ex- 
tent of the nature of the struggle for life, while others 
exemplify the height of self-abnegation, to which on occa- 
sion individuals arise. The story of the martyrdom of the 
Duchesse D'Alengon was related afterwards by an eye-wit- 
ness, a young girl who had been assisting her at a stall not 
far from the outbreak of the fire. As the younger woman 
saw the flames approach she begged her friend to escape, 
pointing out the fact that the main entrance was near, and 
that the fire would soon be upon them. But the Duchess 
replied in calm tones that it was their duty to allow the 
visitors a first chance, and she and her terrified companion 
remained at their post watching the waves of frightened 
people beat their way to safety, until the heat became so 
intense that Mademoiselle L. could endure it no longer. 
With one last entreaty to the Duchess she joined the others 
leaving her brave companion with hands clasped across her 
breast and eyes steadfastly fixed on her approaching doom 
never to be seen again alive. It may here be remarked that 
the Duchess was a sister of the Empress of Austria, who 
later was to die a victim to the assassin's knife, and that 
both were universally known and beloved. Some may find 
food for reflection in the extraordinary manner tragedy 
appears to dog the footsteps of the members of certain fam- 
ilies, and of a truth fire is no respecter of persons, as has 
been instanced again and again. When the firemen were 
able to enter the ruins of this charnel house they found 
near the fatal right wall a mound of dead five feet in height, 
denuded of clothing and many unrecognizable. The 
Duchess was identified only by a ring and certain stopped 
teeth in her jaw. Piteous was the plight of many of the 



GREAT FIRES HOW THEY WERE FOUGHT 165 

survivors, some of whom became insane from fright, while 
others were so severely injured that they afterwards died 
or carried traces of the experience for many years. 

It is out of the question to criticize what might, or might 
not, have been done in the case of a disaster of this nature. 
With a non-fire-resistive structure and conditions such as 
prevailed, from the first the case was practically hopeless, 
though, as a counsel of perfection, had panic been avoided 
more persons might have been saved, and notices advising 
visitors of the back exits should have been displayed. But 
even the latter would probably have availed little, since it 
is the prime impulse of every person in a building to leave 
by the exit through which he or she entered. This it is 
which makes it of supreme importance to have properly 
drilled aisle guards and a staff who, in emergency, will keep 
cool and act as pilots to the excited and hysterical. It is not 
too much to say that if all were possessed of the splendid 
courage of the Duchesse D'Alengon, less life would be sac- 
rificed to fire. 

It is a relief to turn from the contemplation of such hor- 
rors to a conflagration, which, if involving tremendous 1 
financial loss, at least was unattended with the harrowing 
scenes which have been described above. In London on the 
1 9th of November, 1897, a fire broke out at 30 Hansel 
Street, in the heart of the manufacturing and warehouse 
section of the city. The origin of the conflagration was 
the explosion of a gas engine on the premises of a large 
firm of mantle manufacturers. The employees, terrified by 
the smoke, rushed to the roof and fled shrieking in fear 
over the adjoining buildings. A strong wind was blowing, 
and, as is often the case in emergencies of this nature, every- 
body's business being nobody's business, there was some 
delay in transmitting a fire call. On the arrival of the 
Brigade the flames had spread to a neighbouring warehouse 
and had crossed the street to a paper factory. In this part 
of the city the streets are particularly narrow and great 
difficulty was experienced by the firemen in conveniently 
placing their apparatus. Large forces of police were re- 



i66 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

quired to keep back the crowds who sprang up as if by 
magic and threatened seriously to hamper the operations 
of the fire-fighters. One after another the buildings, stocked 
with large supplies of novelties and goods for the Christmas 
market, were involved, and an explosion of gas meters 
added to the complexities of the situation. Firemen, who 
had ascended to the roofs of fire-free buildings in order 
better to attack the outbreak, found their retreat cut off, 
and the excited spectators witnessed many daring rescues 
of these brave men by their comrades. The vicarage of 
St. Giles Church, Cripplegate, was completely destroyed, 
and the church itself, interesting on account of its historic 
associations, was saved after almost superhuman effort. In 
all, one hundred houses covering four acres were consumed, 
and the combined exertions of practically the entire brigade 
were unsuccessful in checking the flames until 5.30 p. M., 
when a wall collapsed in Well Street, arresting the progress 
of the latter. The width of Red Cross Street was for- 
tunately a sufficient barrier at that point, for had the fire 
broken through it is impossible to say where and how it 
would have been stopped. 

Some idea of the magnitude of the conflagration can 
be gleaned from the fact that at midnight no less than fifty 
engines were still at work, and the fire was not under com- 
plete control till the following morning. The total financial 
loss amounted to five million pounds ($25,000,000), put two 
thousand people out of work and sent up the price of 
ostrich feathers in all parts of the world. There is an 
absence of spectacular detail about such an outbreak, which 
tends to make it almost dull and uninteresting, but at the 
same time it illustrates effectively the vast risks which are 
to be found in European towns and goes to show that the 
London Fire Department, though to American ideas lightly 
equipped as regards personnel and apparatus, is at times 
called upon to fight fires of the first magnitude. It is per- 
haps this very absence of spectacular effect which makes 
the realization of fire peril so difficult to the European 
and so vivid to the American. Baltimore, San Francisco, 



GREAT FIRES HOW THEY WERE FOUGHT 167 

the Equitable, were occurrences of world wide interest and 
absorbed the descriptive talent of every skilful writer on 
two continents. A fire such as the above is merely a record 
of good work well and bravely done in the most unromantic 
of surroundings, and with a total absence of "colour," pa- 
thetic, exciting, or enthralling. The business of the world 
was not temporarily dislocated, though the pecuniary val- 
ues involved were so tremendous; lives were in danger, 
certainly, but so they are daily and the fact passes unnoticed. 
Hence it is that in describing great conflagrations, those 
in Europe are apt to sink into insignificance and those 
in the States loom out large in their gaunt and staring 
hideousness. 

In this respect it may not be inappropriate to add a 
few words about the fire danger in conjunction with 
floods. In the spring of most years and alas! par- 
ticularly in that of 1913, floods often occur through the 
rising of rivers and vast tracts of territory are inundated, 
while towns and cities are washed away or destroyed by 
fire. That latter phrase often gives rise to comment. Peo- 
ple argue, how can it be possible to have fires when it is 
water which is giving the main cause for alarm? The an- 
swer is simple enough : gas mains burst, oil stoves are upset, 
electric light mains are severed and become potential torches 
and there is no means of effectively fighting the outbreak. 
Streets, impassable through water, naturally prevent the 
operating of any but floating fire apparatus, and thus it 
is that flames and flood sometimes work as allies, and 
humanity stands staggered at the immensity of the forces 
combined against it. But there is one comforting reflection, 
that silver lining which borders every cloud, namely that 
year by year the services of science are being called upon 
to a greater degree to keep within control the latent forces 
of nature. Houses are built fire-resistant, apparatus is 
perfected, waters are dammed, rivers are banked, and inch 
by inch, day by day, the never ceasing combat continues till 
the time shall come when the victory shall lie with man. 
That day will dawn, of that there is no doubt, and the swift- 



168 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

ness of its advent will be exactly proportionate to the de- 
termination of the human race. 

Amongst some of the great conflagrations known to his- 
tory, the following are representative, though it may be 
hazarded that the financial values involved must, in the 
earlier years, have been problematical, as when an 
entire city is wiped off the map, it is obviously difficult 
to total even approximately the fire loss. Ancient Rome 
boasts of one great outbreak which consumed almost every 
building within its walls, this in 64 A. D. Constantinople 
might not inaptly be described as the much burned, since 
it had three conflagrations in the eighteenth century alone, 
one costing one hundred lives and fifteen thousand dwell- 
ings, another three hundred lives and $30,000,000 worth of 
damage, and the third, thirty thousand dwellings and a 
property loss of $115,000,000. Moscow, outside of 1812, 
when the city was destroyed by its own inhabitants, rather 
than allow it to fall into the hands of Napoleon, was wiped 
out in 1383, the destruction on this occasion being even 
greater than the later event, since natui ally the construction 
was inferior. The great fire of London occasioned a prop- 
erty loss of $60,000,000, while in 1861 the business section 
suffered to the extent of $12,000,000, and in 1874 the 
residential area suffered to the extent of $15,000,000. A 
conflagration of gigantic proportions gutted Smyrna in 
1796 and destroyed half the city with a loss of over $50,- 
000,000. Turning to America. The great fire of New 
York in 1835 destroyed six hundred buildings with a loss 
of $20,000,000, while that of Boston in 1872 represented 
the second highest total extant, namely $100,000,000. The 
record for fire loss, before the conflagration in San Fran- 
cisco, was held by Chicago, which in 1871 lost 17,500 build- 
ings and $200,000,000 worth of property, though without 
appreciable loss of life. Toronto in 1904, St. John's in 
1892, and Hamburg in 1842, were also visited by serious 
outbreaks, that in the German city burning all the business 
section with a loss of $35,000,000, while the Newfoundland 
capital suffered to the extent of $26,000,000, a remarkable 



GREAT FIRES HOW THEY WERE FOUGHT 169 

figure, taking into consideration the small size of the town 
and the relatively minor importance of its financial values. 
After such a recitation, who shall say that personally, finan- 
cially or structurally, fire does not constitute one of the 
greatest perils extant? 



CHAPTER XII 

THE HOTEL PERIL 

WITHIN the last twenty years a great change has come 
over family life, both in Europe and America, and the 
reign of the hotel seems established. Everywhere vast 
caravanserais are springing up, and though replete with all 
the comfort the mind of man can devise, and though ad- 
vertised as "fireproof," their construction is often such as 
to render them an easy prey to fire and therefore dangerous 
to human life. That some people are aware of this fact is 
evidenced by the frequent demand of visitors for rooms 
"not too high up," or "on the lowest story." For, it must 
be remembered, that people do not perish only by fire itself, 
but from suffocation consequent on smoke, from ill-judged 
action caused by panic and from other indirect causes. 
Also, the expression "fireproof," as applied to a building, 
does not include its furnishings and equipment, and is fur- 
ther no guarantee that it has been designed along the lines 
of greatest resistance to the fire peril. Finally, the fire- 
proofing of materials is not always satisfactory, and a story 
is told of a contractor in that business who was asked by 
a friend what was done with all the shavings and chips 
from fireproof wood. The nonchalant reply, "We use them 
to light the stoves in the morning, they make excellent kin- 
dling," gave him food for reflection. There can be no 
doubt that hotel fires are extremely prevalent, as may be 
judged from the following figures. During the first day 
of 1913, five hotels in widely separated portions of the 
United States were destroyed, with a loss of two lives and 
$100,000. The total of such fires in the month of January 
was twenty-five, representing a property loss of $700,000, 

170 



THE HOTEL PERIL 171 

and seven lives. In 1912 there was a hotel fire every 
thirty-three hours in North America, and up to date, 1913, 
that record has been passed, with an outbreak every thirty 
hours. It has been estimated that the property loss in the 
United States, through these disasters, during the last five 
years has amounted to $25,000,000 (5,000,000), while the 
death roll has been proportionate. These figures, it is true, 
apply to America, but similar occurrences are common 
enough in Europe, and are by no means confined to the 
older-fashioned structures. To wit, the fire at the Carlton 
Hotel is still fresh in the memory of Londoners. 

Now it must not be supposed that this state of affairs 
is due to the apathy of hotel proprietors and managers as 
to the safety of their clients; apart from considerations 
of humanity and sentiment, that would be bad business. 
Rather is ignorance the root of the evil, ignorance of the 
very first principles of fire control, which all responsible for 
the lives and safety of others should thoroughly understand. 
It is only too common to find an attic at the top of an hotel 
used as a lumber room and filled with all kinds of inflam- 
mable rubbish such as old mattresses, empty boxes, ex- 
celsior and waste paper, a perfect magazine of combustible 
material and a direct invitation to a visit from the flames. 
Many hotels again, have unprotected elevator shafts 
around which circle the main stairs; should a fire orig- 
inate on the ground floor, instanter the shaft becomes a 
flue up which the flames sweep with amazing rapidity, and 
the stairway as a means of exit becomes impassable. De- 
fective electric wiring is likewise a constant source of dan- 
ger, short-circuiting constituting one of the most serious 
of risks. As for heating apparatus, with faulty connections, 
improperly covered or wrongly situated hot-air ducts 
were this cause of trouble eliminated, it is no exaggeration 
to say that hotel fires would decrease by one-third. It may 
be imagined that the introduction of precautions necessary 
to combat this peril spells the expenditure of large sums 
of money and radical structural alterations. Broadly 
speaking, this is not the case, the expenditure of a certain 



172 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

amount of common sense and care will produce far reach- 
ing results, as the history of hotel fires goes to show, while 
in the case of new construction it should be realized that 
"skimping" in the matter of fire protection, in the long 
run, is the worst kind of "penny wise, pound foolish" policy. 
The municipal authorities, of course, insist upon compliance 
with certain regulations when the erection of a hotel is 
undertaken, varying with the country and local conditions, 
but as a rule the building code is directed chiefly towards 
insuring safety of exit for guests, rather than interfering 
with the larger issue of how the necessity of a hurried exit 
may be avoided. At the same time the writer must place 
on record the fact that, in New York, the new hotels 
embody every known means of fire resistance and are as 
perfect in their construction as the present state of human 
knowledge will allow. 

But what precautions then should be taken in 
older buildings and are they beyond the scope of the 
average manager ? The answer may be framed in the form 
of another question or rather series of questions. Has 
everything been done to prevent a possible outbreak by the 
removal of potential sources of the same? This is largely 
a matter of common sense coupled with some thought. 
Then, can a fire be readily detected ? Is there an automatic 
fire alarm or is there a night watchman who records his 
tours of inspection in a clock? Can guests be readily 
alarmed, and is there direct telephonic communication with 
the fire department? Is there an efficient system of fire 
escapes and is the house properly provided with chemical 
extinguishers and such like apparatus? Are the employees 
competent to deal with an incipient blaze and have any 
regulations been issued as to the particular duty of each 
in the event of an emergency? These suggestions do not 
represent a considerable capital outlay and yet are all of 
primal importance. Of course, it is easy to continue the 
catechism further and to ask whether, in design and con- 
struction, the building is such that it is feasible to confine 
a fire within certain limits, whether elevator shafts are 



THE HOTEL PERIL 173 

covered in, whether floor openings are unprotected, whether 
there is a sufficient water supply, and whether the house 
is guarded against exposure fires, i.e., fires caused by 
adjacency to some other burning structure, a common 
enough contingency and one easily met by the adoption 
of wire-glass in windows? This may appear a formidable 
battery of queries, but a little consideration will suffice to 
show that their bark is worse than their bite, and that, after 
all, there is nothing so dreadfully radical in the proposition 
as to necessitate loss of sleep or visions of speedy bank- 
ruptcy. The great conflagrations of the world have not 
been due to elemental disruptions, as a rule, beyond the 
control of man, but rather to acts of deliberate careless- 
ness or thoughtlessness, which might easily have been 
avoided. And so it is with fires in hotels; they constitute 
a real peril which annually reaps a rich harvest of lives and 
property, a minimum of precaution and the harvest would 
not be garnered. 

The following examples of hotel fires which might have 
been avoided are selected from a list prepared by "Insur- 
ance Engineering," a monthly publication devoted to the 
science of fire control. "Brockville, Ontario, Canada. 
Strathcona Hotel. Cause, overheated furnace in basement. 
Discovered by clerk at 4.45 in the morning. No private 
appliances. Fire Department handicapped by delayed alarm 
and lack of sufficient apparatus with which to fight the fire. 
Loss considerable." Overheated furnaces are a source of 
such constant trouble that the heating plant should always 
be isolated and situated in a fireproof room, though a case 
is recorded from Chicago in which it was found that the 
heat from the firebox of a boiler was so intense that it ig- 
nited some sheets of music on the other side of a thick brick 
wall. Hence, isolation cannot be too carefully ensured. 
"Chicago. York Hotel. Cause of fire, defective electric 
wiring. Discovered by watchman, 3.16 A. M v in partition 
in first story. Fire department immediately notified. Fire 
spread to roof in hollow finish. Private fire protection 
poor. Firemen who arrived promptly helped guests to 



174 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

escape by stairs. Loss nominal, owing to the prompt and 
effective work of the fire department." Defective electric 
wiring is too frequent a cause of fire, and can easily be 
avoided by regular inspection. It is then the safest method 
of illumination in the world. A word may here be inserted 
about "hollow finish." This is the system whereby spaces 
are left between the outside covering of a wall, ceiling 
or floor in the main constructional work. Such cavities, 
if subjected to fire, are a source of serious danger, since 
the air therein encourages the flames, whereas, if built up 
flush, this danger disappears. "Rimouski, P. Q. St. Ger- 
mains Hotel. Three story, wood. Cause, hot stovepipe on 
the floor of the second story. Fire spread through hollow 
wall finish. Loss, total." "Charleston, Ont. Grand View 
Hotel. Cause, oil heater in pool-room. Fire spread to other 
buildings and caused a conflagration. Loss, $200,000." 
These are good examples of how fires occur through de- 
fective heating arrangements. It seems scarcely necessary 
to insist that in any building, stovepipes should be most 
carefully protected, while oil stoves, as heaters, should be 
abolished in toto. "Akron, Ohio. Thuma Hotel. Five 
stories, brick, ordinary construction, hollow finish. Cause, 
grease fire on range of kitchen in basement ignited coating 
of grease in vent shaft which passed upward through build- 
ing, part of the way between the ceiling finish of the second 
story and the floor of the third. Fire Department re- 
sponded quickly to a box alarm and fought fire for six 
hours. When the firemen arrived the fire was general 
throughout the building. Owing to the effective work of 
the firemen the loss was limited to twenty-five per cent. 
of the values." Vent ducts from kitchen ranges are pe- 
culiarly liable to ignition since, in course of time, the pipes 
become coated with a thick deposit of inflammable grease. 
Should this catch fire, great heat is generated, and the duct 
becoming red hot, will ignite any wood adjacent to it. 
Hence, every precaution should be adopted for the isola- 
tion of these vents, so that, in the event of an outbreak, 
they may burn out without causing more serious trouble. 



THE HOTEL PERIL 175 

Of the inconsequent carelessness of hotel employees, a 
whole volume might easily be compiled. The following 
are, however, good examples: "Salina, Kansas. National 
Hotel. Fire started in the basement, in laundry chute into 
which a cigar butt had been thrown. The chute was of 
wood and extended from basement to roof, with unprotected 
openings in each story. The fire was discovered by the 
hotel porter, but an alarm was not sent to the fire depart- 
ment. The notification to which it responded was the fire 
itself which was seen by several firemen. The hotel had 
been inspected by the fire department, and the owner warned 
against the dangerous construction and arrangement of the 
chute." "Missoula, Montana. Florence Hotel. Three 
story, brick, ordinary construction, hollow finish, unpro- 
tected floor openings. Fire started in elevator shaft in 
the rear of building, and was caused by a can of hot ashes 
set on the platform of the elevator car. Fire was dis- 
covered at II A. M. by a clerk, who promptly transmitted 
the alarm to the fire department. The flames traveled up 
elevator shaft, and 'mushroomed' in the attic, between the 
ceiling of the top story and the roof. A partition in the 
attic, between the main building and a wing, assisted the 
firemen in checking further spread of fire. It took five hours 
to suppress the blaze." 

The carelessness of hotel servants is proverbial, and to 
make them realize the danger of the thoughtless throwing 
away of an oily rag, the improper disposal of rubbish, or 
of an unextinguished cigarette or cigar end may not in- 
aptly be compared with the labours of Sisyphus. When 
it is remembered, that in some large hotels the staff em- 
ployed number about two thousand souls, the extent of the 
mischief can be gauged. And if servants are careless, what 
of guests? Contemplate the following: "Tacoma, Wash- 
ington. Grand Hotel. Four story, brick, ordinary construc- 
tion. Fire started at 5.35 p. M., and was caused by a man 
smoking in bed/ It was discovered quickly by other guests, 
and the fire department responding promptly, controlled the 
outbreak so that the loss was limited to $17,000." Com- 



176 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

ment really seems to be needless and the protection of th 
individual against himself has not added to the lightening 
of the burden of those responsible. But probably the mos 
terrible exemplification of the mischief which can b 
wrought by a thoughtless visitor is embodied in the stor 
of the Windsor Hotel fire. This building occupied th 
entire block on the east side of Fifth Avenue in New Yor] 
City, between Forty-sixth and Forty-seventh streets. I 
was of antique construction, with wide halls, high ceiling 
and several elevator shafts. On the I7th of March at 
p. M. a guest in a front parlor on the second floor lighte* 
a cigar and threw the still blazing match into the streel 
As it passed the curtains, the latter ignited and in an instan 
were in flames. Without attempting to extinguish the blaz 
or to give an alarm, the author of the disaster fled fror 
the room, and a few moments afterwards the head waitei 
in passing the door, caught sight of the fire, which, by tha 
time, had greatly increased. Unaided he made a brav 
effort to subdue it, but his hands were badly burned and i 
was easy to see that more help was needed. The St. Pat 
rick's Day parade was passing at the time. The street 
were lined with spectators and guarded by policemen, in 
terested onlookers were leaning out of the windows of th 
hotel itself and the strains of many brass bands deadene< 
all other sound. As the head waiter calling, "Fire," ran int 
the street and endeavoured to reach an alarm box which, ur 
fortunately, was situated on the other side of Fifth Avenue 
he was prevented from crossing by a puzzled policemar 
who could not understand the excited man's incoherer 
explanations above the din of the music. But the smok 
and flames soon told their own story and a first, seconc 
and finally a fourth alarm were sent in. Owing to the con 
struction of the building the flames ascended both by wa 
of the halls and in and out of windows to the top floe 
with great rapidity. In spite of the desperate efforts o 
the part of the fire department, who were handicapped b 
a poor water supply, before 4 P. M. the hotel was in ruin 
A little later the only wall to remain standing slid dow 



THE HOTEL PERIL 177 

to its base like a closing fan. By 7 p. M. the fire was under 
control and the safety of adjoining property was assured. 
Of the many guests and servants who had been watching 
the procession, fourteen were dead and about fifty injured. 
Some of them had attempted to use the safety ropes which 
had been placed in each bed-room, but the friction on their 
hands became too great and they were forced to let go and 
meet their doom in the streets. One handsomely dressed 
woman on the fourth floor held out her arms as though 
imploring aid from above, then without a cry she jumped, 
turning over and over as she fell until she struck the iron 
railing below. At one window appeared a woman bearing 
in her arms a child. Terrified by the flames which were 
licking the sill from the floor beneath, she threw the child 
into the street and an instant later followed. Many rescues 
were effected by the firemen who mounted on ladders and 
dragged to safety some of the occupants, and if others had 
not been panic-stricken by the proximity of danger, and had 
possessed sufficient courage to await the arrival of help, 
many of those who jumped to death might have been saved. 
Behind the hotel, and connected with it from the interior, 
was a Russian bath establishment, where a number of pat- 
rons were enjoying the pleasures of treatment. They were 
obliged to make the best of their way out clad in sheets, 
towels, or whatever articles of clothing were nearest to 
hand. Two men in the hotel who were vainly hunting 
for a fire escape were met by a trained nurse, who said 
that she could conduct them through her room to the object 
of their search. When they had entered, however, she put 
her back against the door and told them that they must as- 
sist her in carrying her patient, a helpless old lady in a 
wheeled chair, to a place of safety. In other words, this 
plucky woman had invented this scheme in order to save 
the life of her charge, and the men, infected by her cour- 
age did as requested, and all four gained the street without 
mishap. All this owing to an act of carelessness on the 
part of a visitor, whose identity, by the way, has never 
been discovered to this day. 



1 78 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

Prevention is, of course, better than cure, but next to 
that is promptness of action, both direct and indirect. That 
is to say, an outbreak of fire should be detected as soon as 
possible, which may be accomplished either automatically by 
sprinklers, by a watchman, who registers his inspection 
visits on a clock, or by both. It must never be forgotten 
that every minute lost means ten times the additional risk. 
The following type of case is, unfortunately, too common. 
"Sioux City, Iowa. Mondamin Hotel. Four stories brick, 
ordinary construction, unprotected floor openings. Fire 
started 8.20 p. M. in boiler room in basement. Discovered 
by outsider who transmitted alarm. Since discovery of the 
fire was delayed, fire department was unable to control it. 
Loss, $120,000." A watchman, at ten dollars a week, would 
not have been an extravagant rate of insurance. 

Again, contrast the following: "Lansing, Michigan. 
Downey Hotel. Six story, brick, ordinary construction, 
hollow finish, unprotected floor openings. Cause of fire, 
a heated bearing in, or an electrical defect at, elevator 
motor in pent house over roof of elevator shaft. Discov- 
ered, 5.59 P. M. by hotel employee. Alarm received by 
fire department, 6.25. Fire burned until 8 A. M. next day. 
Loss over $100,000." "Little Rock, Arkansas. Gleason's 
Hotel. Four story, brick, ordinary construction, hollow 
finish, unprotected floor openings. Fire caused by electric 
motor top of elevator shaft. Discovered by employee at 
i. 08 A. M., box alarm transmitted immediately. Fire con- 
trolled in thirty minutes, and confined to locality of origin. 
Loss, $2,300, less than three per cent, of values." A better 
exemplification of the advantages of prompt action could 
not be imagined. The notifying of guests in hotels of an 
outbreak of fire is of supreme importance, since, as a rule, 
such outbreaks occur at night when most of the inmates 
are asleep. It is a good scheme to have an alarm gong fitted 
in the bed-rooms, which should be operated from the re- 
ception bureau or other central position. But even such 
methods should be supplemented by personal calls from 
members of the staff. This will go a long way towards 



THE HOTEL PERIL 179 

preventing a panic, of which there is a danger if the gong 
alone is used. As for fire escapes, this is a vast and 
intricate subject. Time and again have persons been in- 
jured on narrow fire escapes, while, as stated in the Wind- 
sor hotel fire, a rope provides only a last and desperate 
means of exit. Some hotels are now erected with fire 
escape towers, which completely cut off the flames and in- 
sure an open road to safety. But it is impossible to lay 
down any hard and fast rules for the construction and 
placing of contrivances, since, to a certain extent, the de- 
sign of the building must be taken into consideration. 
And in all cases sufficient and careful thought should 
be given to these matters. It seems hardly credible 
that there should be hotels devoid of even a hand 
chemical grenade, yet fire chiefs frequently report that such 
is the case. Every establishment of a certain size should 
not only be properly equipped with hand and chemical ex- 
tinguishers, but should also be possessed of a private fire 
department. The formation of such an organization offers 
no particular difficulty, and in the opinion of the writer, is 
as worthy of advertisement in hotel announcements as such 
hackneyed phrases as "unsurpassed cuisine," "moderate 
terms," and "unrivalled view." The casual visitor would 
sleep just as soundly were he deprived of those three re- 
markable benefits, but he might be forgiven for passing 
a restless night were he haunted by the terrors of fire due 
to "poor fire control." And now to come to an all-engross- 
ing portion of the theme under discussion, namely, why 
fires spread rapidly in hotels. In nearly all such buildings 
there is a lack of subdivision of floor area, though in some 
cities an interior wall of incombustible material is required 
between every set of four rooms, this extending from foun- 
dations to roof. In one of the latest New York hotels, 
the partitions between rooms are of hollow tile, the doors 
of steel and the transoms glazed with wire-glass; even the 
trim and picture mouldings are of metal. That this is the 
very height of perfection in fire control may be gathered 
from the fact that in this same hotel an outbreak recently 



180 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

occurred amongst some furniture stored on an upper floor. 
The furniture was completely destroyed, but the room was 
habitable twenty- four hours later, while the adjoining 
premises were unharmed. Unprotected floor openings, like 
the poor, are ever with us, and embody the most glaring 
structural defects imaginable. Their retention is virtually 
a crime, especially considering the facility with which this 
risk can be remedied. Cases without number might be 
cited of the prominent part played by this avoidable fault 
in hotel conflagrations, but the two following may be quoted 
as typical. At a hotel in a Kansas city, the stairway en- 
circled the elevator shaft a form of suicidal internal ar- 
chitecture peculiarly popular in England and on the con- 
tinent of Europe. The fire started early in the morning 
in the basement, cutting off the escape of the guests, many 
of whom jumped from windows, while others slid down 
ropes made of bed clothing. The other hails from Oneon- 
ta, New York. "Central Hotel. Fire discovered at 3.30 
A. M. under basement stairs by clerk. No private fire ap- 
pliances. Fire department handicapped by wires in street. 
Rope fire escapes only. Three lives lost." In such terse 
language is summed up the result of unprotected floor open- 
ings. Fire and smoke naturally ascend, and hence it is of 
paramount importance that not only should stairways and 
elevator shafts, dumb waiters, pipe and wire chases, be of 
fireproof construction, but each opening, should be entirely 
enclosed by fireproof materials. Elevators and stairways 
should always be separated; the encircling stair and the 
lattice work elevator shaft being an invention of the fire 
fiend himself. The shaft of an elevator may well be com- 
pared to a factory chimney. Every one knows that the 
giant smoke stacks which dot the hillsides of any manu- 
facturing neighbourhood, have not been erected with a view 
to the picturesque. Rather is their purpose strictly utili- 
tarian, the higher the chimney the greater the draught, the 
fiercer the fire and the more tremendous the heat. It is 
exactly the same with an elevator shaft with a fire at the 
bottom, which, if closed at the top has the effect of draw- 



THE HOTEL PERIL 181 

ing up the smoke and heat, which form the primal obstacles 
to escape by inmates on the upper floors. Thereafter, the 
fire spreads laterally and downward. Hence, these shafts 
should be rendered as completely "fire tight" as compart- 
ments in a ship are constructed "water tight." 

Finally, elevator machinery should be placed at the top 
of a shaft, as the lubricating oil and grease used on its 
running parts form ready material for the flames. The 
same may be said to apply to stairways, though in this con- 
nection it may be remarked that particular attention should 
be paid to the basement and attic entrances of the same, as 
it sometimes occurs that these are left unguarded, and these 
two points constitute, as a rule, the beginning and the end 
of hotel fires. Interior light courts are also a source of 
danger, especially when roofed over. All windows looking 
onto such courts should be glazed with wire glass, and, 
as a matter of fact, light wells should never be roofed. 
As regards "hollow finish," the following two examples 
explain the danger more succinctly than columns of tech- 
nicalities: "Putnam, Connecticut. Chickering Hotel. 
Three stories and basement, wood walls, ordinary construc- 
tion, hollow finish, mansard roof. Fire started in basement 
near boiler, discovered at 1.30 A. M. by a passer-by. Burned 
six hours. Loss $19,000, about 55 per cent, of values. Chief 
of Fire Department said: 'The fire worked up inside 
partitions to the roof. There was not a square yard of 
flooring burned in any place.' ' "Excelsior Springs, Mis- 
souri. New Elms Hotel. Three story and basement stone 
building. Fire started at 1.30 A. M. in coal bin outside of 
building. Discovered promptly and quick alarm sent in. 
No private fire protection and fire department handicapped 
by weak water pressure. Fire Chief's reasons for spread of 
fire as follows : 'There were no fire walls in the building. 
There were wide spaces between ceilings and floors to act 
as "deadeners," and it was through these spaces that the 
fire spread through the building and made it difficult for 
firemen to get water at the right place at the right time/ " 
This system of introducing "deadeners" is a concession to 



1 82 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

the visitors, who naturally enough dislike noise, and whc 
otherwise would be disturbed by their neighbours. It car 
be rendered safe or at any rate partially so, by rilling uj 
these spaces either with asbestos or mineral wool. Ventila- 
tion systems should also be carefully supervised, as on occa 
sion they may prove responsible for serious fire risk. Th< 
following instance is illustrative of the care which mus' 
be exercised over hotel design, where, be it remembered 
panic is above all else to be avoided. In a New York hote 
a huge volume of smoke suddenly filled a crowded dining 
room. The cause was the burning of a heap of rubbisf 
which had been placed too close to the air intake of the 
ventilating fan, which draughted the smoke and blew it or 
through the ventilating system. Nothing more serious thar 
the annoyance and discomfort of the guests resulted, bu1 
the draperies and decorations were damaged by smoke 
Had the intake been located higher up, or had it been ar- 
ranged to close with movable louvers the trouble would no 
have occurred. Fire exposure or the danger to be appre- 
hended from fires originating nearby and in turn communi- 
cating with an hotel can to a great degree be guarded againsl 
by the fitting of window openings with hollow metal sashes 
glazed with wire-glass. That this risk is not so remote 
as might be supposed may be seen from the following 
"Oakland, California. St. Mark's Hotel. Eight stories 
reinforced concrete. Fire started in sign painter's shop 
in second story of adjoining building and burned out win- 
dows of hotel, which were sashed with wood." "Kansas 
City, Missouri. Ormond Hotel. Five stories, brick. Fire 
originated in garage adjoining, between ceiling of first and 
floor of second story. Cause, defective electric wiring. 
Garage employees delayed sending in an alarm. Fire de- 
partment handicapped by headway of fire, height of hotel 
and weak water pressure. Insurance loss, $140,000; values 
$310,000." It goes without saying that hotels as frequently 
burn other buildings and that these remarks may be taken 
as being applicable to all houses of whatever type. Of 
course, it may be urged that this use of wire-glass is deplor- 



THE HOTEL PERIL 183 

able from an aesthetic point of view, which with some peo- 
ple counts for more than common sense and the protection 
of life and limb. For such artistic souls it is impossible to 
cater, though it is fortunate that with the majority of the 
community fire risks are more important than landscapes, 
however inspiring. 

Which introduces the conclusion of the subject. It has 
been demonstrated ad nauseam in the preceding pages 
that hotel fires are very real contingencies against 
which to prepare, and it has been shown that the fire- 
proof hotel is not yet to be considered as practical poli- 
tics. But it can be made fire resistive and that with a 
degree of certainty which will minimize the risk to an ap- 
preciable extent. The automatic sprinkler will do every- 
thing except start a fire. As explained elsewhere its con- 
struction is simplicity itself, while not only does it auto- 
matically damp down an incipient blaze, but in addition will 
operate a fire alarm, insuring that there is no delay on the 
part of either employees or fire department in tackling the 
enemy. It is perfectly possible to install this system in the 
public rooms of an hotel and yet interfere not at all with 
the decorative scheme, which would be treason in the eyes 
of some. In one building so protected, the sprinklers num- 
ber no less than 1,600, the source of water supply being 
a 20,000 gallon tank elevated twenty-five feet above the 
roof, and two six-inch connections with the city main. By 
this method it is possible for a room to be burnt out and 
the fire subdued, without the damage to property and the 
excitement amongst guests which would be caused by the 
arrival of a brigade and the subsequent operating of hose 
pipes through the hall and stairways and through windows. 
The sprinkler system is, in fact, the silent guardian of 
life and property, which "slumbers not nor sleeps" and 
which can be relied upon as a rule. A rise in temperature 
1 60 degrees Fahrenheit on the floor is sufficient, and the 
sprinkler starts to work, sending down a drenching stream 
upon the affected area and warning all and sundry that there 
is an enemy at hand. At a recent fire in a hotel guarded 



1 84 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

in this fashion, one of the guests rang and complained oi 
a water pipe located just above his bed, which had bursl 
suddenly and awakened him from his beauty sleep. His 
indignation was unbounded and in the morning he de- 
manded an apology from the manager, which was smiling!} 
forthcoming. But that individual did not think it neces- 
sary to explain to the irate guest that the room above his 
(an unoccupied one) had caught fire and that the lives oi 
some five hundred guests had been quietly and quicklj 
saved by an inconspicuous "sprinkler." 



CHAPTER XIII 

THEATRES AND FIRE PANICS 

THE problems affecting fire control in places of public 
amusement are amongst the most intricate demanding solu- 
tion by Fire Departments. For here the human element 
becomes an important factor in the situation, and though 
every safeguard scientific ingenuity can devise may be 
adopted, and though thousands of dollars may be ex- 
pended in the installation of the most modern and com- 
plete equipment of that nature, it lies within the power of 
one small boy in the gallery, who thoughtlessly calls out 
"Fire," to transform an assembly of happy pleasure- 
seekers into a shambles. That is to say, unless some 
scheme of controlling an audience in moments of emer- 
gency can be devised, and towards this end many fire pro- 
tection associations are working. Hence in treating the 
subject it will be convenient first to consider the active 
measures demanded by municipalities from the managers 
of theatres for the public safety, then to give an example 
of an actual theatre fire, drawing from it the obvious 
deductions, and finally to touch on audiences themselves. 

Broadly speaking, theatre safety depends upon the situa- 
tion and convenience of exits, the use of the fireproof 
curtain completely separating the stage from the audi- 
torium, the installation of a system of automatic sprinklers 
in places where much inflammable material is to be found, 
such as in scenery docks, and minute attention to such 
details as the provision of fireproof scenery, and the cag- 
ing in of all lights, electric or otherwise. Perhaps it will be 
simplest to give the regulations suggested for or existing in 

185 



1 86 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

New York on this subject, which may be accepted as repre- 
senting the standard requirements. 

Standpipes four inches in diameter must be provided 
with hose attachments on every floor and gallery; one 
on each side of the auditorium in every tier and one on 
each side of the stage in every tier. In addition there 
must be at least one in the property room and one in the 
carpenter's shop, if the latter be contiguous to the building. 
All these standpipes must be kept clear from obstruction 
and be fitted with the regulation couplings of the fire depart- 
ment. They must be kept constantly filled with water by 
means of an automatic power pump of sufficient capa- 
city to supply all the lines of hose when operated simultan- 
eously. This pump must be ready for immediate use at all 
times during a performance. A separate and distinct sys- 
tem of automatic sprinklers with fusible plugs, supplied 
with water from a tank situated on the roof over the stage 
and not connected in any manner with the standpipes, 
must be placed on each side of the proscenium opening 
and on the ceiling over the stage at sach intervals as will 
protect every square foot of stage surface when they 
are in operation. Wherever practicable these sprinklers 
must also be placed in the dressing rooms, under the stage 
and in the carpenter's shop, paint rooms, store and prop- 
erty rooms. A sufficient quantity of hose fitted with regu- 
lation couplings and with nozzles and hose spanners must 
be kept attached to holders. For immediate use on the 
stage there must always be kept in readiness four casks 
full of water and two buckets to each cask; all to be 
painted red. There must also be provided hand-pumps or 
other portable fire extinguishing apparatus, and at least four 
axes and six hooks of different lengths on each floor of the 
stage. 

Every portion of the building devoted to the accommo- 
dation of the public, as also all outlets leading to the 
streets, must be well and properly lighted during the per- 
formance, and the lights must not be extinguished until 
the entire audience has left the premises. The illumination 




MODERN THEATRE. NEW YORK CITY. 



THEATRES AND FIRE PANICS 187 

of all parts of the building used by the audience, with 
the exception of the auditorium, must be controlled from 
the lobby by a separate shut-off. Gas and electric mains 
supplying the theatre must have independent connections 
for the auditorium and the stage, and provision must be 
made for shutting off the gas from the outside of the build- 
ing. All suspended or bracket lights surrounded by glass 
in any portion of the theatre used by the public must be 
provided with wire netting protection. No gas or electric 
lights must be inserted in the walls, woodwork, ceilings or 
in any part of the building unless protected by fireproof 
materials. The footlights, when not electric, in addition 
to the wire network, must be protected with a, strong wire 
guard and chain placed not less than two feet distant, 
and the trough containing the footlights must be com- 
posed of and surrounded by fireproof material. All border 
lights must be subject to the approval of the Department 
of Buildings and be suspended for ten feet by wire rope. 
All stage lights must have strong metal wire guards not 
less than eight inches in diameter so constructed that any 
material in contact therewith is out of reach of the flames. 
The bridge calcium lights at the sides of the proscenium 
shall be enclosed in front and on the side by galvanized 
iron, so that no drop can come in contact with the lights. 
Electric calciums, so called, are included in the above re- 
quirements. Standpipes and all apparatus for the extinction 
of fire or for guarding against the same, must be in charge 
and under the control of the fire department, and the 
Commissioner is responsible for the carrying out of these 
regulations. 

A diagram of each tier, gallery or floor showing 
distinctly the exits therefrom, each plan occupying a 
space of not less than fifteen square inches, must be legi- 
bly printed in black lines on the programme of every 
performance. Every exit must have over the inside of 
the door the word "EXIT/' painted in legible letters not less 
than eight inches high. All exit doors must open out- 
wards and be fastened with movable bolts, which must 



i88 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

be kept drawn during performances. No doors shall oper 
immediately upon a flight of stairs, but a landing of rea- 
sonable width shall be allowed between them. The pros- 
cenium opening must be provided with a fireproof meta! 
curtain or one constructed of asbestos, overlapping the 
brick proscenium wall at each side not less than twelve 
inches and sliding vertically at each side within iron chan- 
nels of a depth of not less than twelve inches. These 
grooves must be securely bolted to the wall and must ex- 
tend to a height of not less than three feet above the toj 
of the curtain when raised to its full limit. This curtair 
should be raised at the commencement of each perform- 
ance, lowered between each act and again lowered at the 
end of the performance. This system is now regularl) 
in force in Chicago. If the curtain be made of asbestos 
that material must be reinforced with wire, while to en- 
sure its remaining taut and its easy descent, a rigid me- 
tallic bar of sufficient weight must be firmly attached to it! 
base. The excess weight of the curtain is to be overcome 
by a check rope of cotton or hemp, extending to the flooi 
on both sides of the stage, so that its cutting or burning 
will release the curtain, which will then descend at its nor 
mal rate of speed. This curtain shall at no point be nearei 
the footlights than three feet. 

As regards doorways, none shall be allowed through th< 
proscenium from the auditorium above the first floor anc 
all doorways shall have self closing standard fire-door; 
on each side of the wall. Openings, if any, below the stag< 
must each have self-closing fire-doors and all such door; 
must be hung so as to permit of opening from either sid< 
at all times. Near the centre of the highest part of th< 
stage should be constructed one or more ventilators o: 
incombustible material, extending at least ten feet abov< 
the stage roof and of an area equal to at least twelve pe: 
cent, of the area within the stage walls. Openings in thes< 
ventilators should be closed by valves so counterbalance 
as to open automatically, and kept shut by cords, in whicl 
must be inserted a fusible link at a point near the botton 



THEATRES AND FIRE PANICS 189 

of the ventilator. This cord should be fastened on the 
stage floor level near the prompter's desk so that in case 
of necessity it can be easily reached and severed. All that 
portion of the stage not comprised in the working of scen- 
ery, traps and other mechanical apparatus and usually equal 
to the width of the proscenium opening, should be built 
of fire resisting material. The fly and tie galleries should 
be constructed of iron or steel, while the gridiron or rigging 
loft should have a lattice iron floor, and be readily accessi- 
ble by iron stairways. All stage scenery, curtains and 
decorations and all woodwork on or about the stage should 
be saturated with some non-combustible material, and this 
should apply likewise to all finishing coats of paint given 
to woodwork. A strong feature should also be made of 
a careful and thorough examination before and after a 
performance of all fire apparatus by the firemen, whether 
municipal or private, attached to the theatre for profes- 
sional duties. This in brief standardizes the main features 
regarded by experts as embracing the minimum demands 
consistent with the safety of the public and they have been 
given in some detail, since shorn of picturesque narrative, 
they are more likely to receive attention from the serious 
minded. 

A better example of a calamitous fire at a theatre attended 
with appalling loss of life could not be selected than that 
of the Iroquois Theatre in Chicago. On the 3Oth of De- 
cember, 1903, two thousand women and children crowded 
to a matinee performance of a musical extravaganza called 
"Mr. Bluebeard." The theatre had the reputation of being 
the largest, safest and newest in Chicago and had seating 
accommodation for 1,740 persons. Holidays were in full 
swing and being the last afternoon performance of the 
old year it drew hundreds of little ones with their happy 
parents not alone from the city itself, but from many 
towns in the vicinity. The house was consequently 
packed, many people willingly standing at the backs of 
the galleries in order to see the celebrated Eddie Foy, 
the chief laugh maker of the play. A particularly popular 



190 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

song was in progress, and children and grown-ups were 
absorbed in watching eight pretty girls and eight young 
men singing and dancing to the strains of the fine orchestra, 
when suddenly a large piece of burning muslin border 
fell upon the stage. Unknown to actors and audience the 
"spotlight" had fused, or so it was suspected, and stage 
hands with sticks had been fighting the fire for some 
moments in the wings before this ominous ^herald made 
its unwelcome appearance in full view of all. The singers 
gasped and wavered; the orchestra ceased with a crash. 
For the space of a heart-beat there was silence. Then a 
curious figure bearing a small child staggered from the 
wings to the footlights. It was Eddie Foy and the child 
was his son. Hurriedly he passed the boy to the con- 
ductor and the grotesque appearance of the comedian, clad 
only .in his tights and minus half his grease paint, momen- 
tarily distracted the attention of the audience from the 
flames behind him. "For God's sake play and keep on 
playing," he implored the leader of the orchestra in hushed 
tones, and the musicians responded to his appeal with trem- 
bling hands and uncertain fingers. 

Meanwhile, desperate efforts were being made to lower 
the fireproof curtain, which bellying in, owing to the draught 
from the auditorium, jammed and descended only a few 
feet. As the flames spurted from beneath its edge, a 
woman's shriek rang out and of the horror which ensued 
few of the survivors can bring themselves to speak. Fire 
and smoke driven from the stage swept up to the gal- 
leries, where a panic had already started. Mothers wrap- 
ping their arms about their children, were trampled under 
foot in the wild rush of despair. Then the stage loft col- 
lapsed., A column of flame rose from the ground to 
the ceiling and the theatre was plunged in darkness, 
while the battle of life continued in one crescendo 
of horror. All unconscious of the tragedy being en- 
acted within a stone's throw, some painters in a build- 
ing opposite one of the balcony exits suddenly saw 
a man standing on the escape. As they looked, the 



THEATRES AND FIRE PANICS 191 

red glare of fire on the story below him showed them that 
his way to safety had been cut off and that his need was 
desperate. Running out a ladder from their window to 
where he stood they urged him to cross; but ladder and 
man slipped from the coping and plunged with a sickening 
thud into the street below. And now, more crazed crea- 
tures were making their way to this narrow platform and 
of them, twelve were drawn to safety on some planks. By 
this time, however, the fire was above, beside and beneath 
them, and women and children packed like, sardines, help- 
less to move, were roasted slowly alive before the eyes of 
their would-be rescuers. When the firemen succeeded in 
entering the charnel house they were confronted by a wall 
of bodies ten feet in height and seven feet in width. It 
was impossible to believe that amongst these distorted forms 
could have remained any living person, but the Fire Mar- 
shal called to the surrounding silence, "Is there any one 
living here?'* There was no reply, and the men made their 
way over this ghastly barricade in search of, perchance, 
one survivor. 

Out of the two thousand merry-makers who had entered 
the theatre, buoyant with happy expectations, six hundred 
and two were carried to the morgue. It was found by the 
exploring firemen that those in the second balcony had 
suffered most in their futile efforts to descend the stairs. 
The sight was a horrible one. Wedged in a solid mass, 
which had practically lost all semblance of humanity, were 
what had once been men, women and children, twisted 
and entwined together in their death struggles. In the 
vise-like grip of usually feeble hands were found bits of 
cloth, fragments of jewellery and strands of hair evidently 
wrenched from their possessors in that hideous carnival of 
terror. One poor woman from being bent back over a 
seat had not only a broken spine, but had become prac- 
tically dismembered through the pressure placed upon her, 
while in many instances faces had become so distorted as 
to be unrecognizable even to near relatives. Others who 
had bravely kept their seats and withstood the spur of 



192 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

panic fear had been overcome by smoke and gas and at 
least had received as their reward a peaceful death. A 
fire captain observing one of his men carrying the body 
of a girl called to him, "We've got no time for that sort 
of thing now, we must get on." To his surprise the man 
raised a tear-stained face and said brokenly, "Captain, I've 
got one of my own about this age, so if you don't mind 
I'll carry this little one out." The Captain silently handed 
him a blanket and, unrebuked, he bore his sad burden to 
the door. 

Those there were, whose hearts were too hardened to 
be touched by the piteous spectacle, which had unnerved 
the strongest minded. These unspeakable creatures lurked 
and crouched in corners waiting for the opportunity to 
pull a ring from a powerless hand or to wrench a brooch 
from a motionless form. Over the scenes at the identifi- 
cation it is unnecessary to linger, suffice it to say that so 
widespread was the sympathy evoked by this terrible catas- 
trophe, that for many days following Chicago was a city of 
mourning, all festivities being suspended. 

The distressing incidents accompanying this outbreak 
have not been dwelt upon with the idea of satiating a mor- 
bid curiosity, but rather because they bring home forcibly 
to the general reader some notion of what a theatre panic 
really means. To how. many has the question ever oc- 
curred when seated at a theatre and enjoying a play, "What 
should I do if some one shouted Tire' now? Should I 
push and fight and struggle or should I remain calmly 
in my place?" It is this question of the personal equa- 
tion which makes fire control in theatres a problem, at once 
perplexing and all-important. Obviously, the first step 
towards the safety of theatre audiences must come from 
a properly equipped and constructed building. Next, the 
records of almost every theatre disaster show that the 
critical moment in determining the fate of the audience 
is that immediately following the first indication of alarm. 
Hence the training of theatre attendants should be directed 
rather towards the prevention of panic than to the regula- 



THEATRES AND FIRE PANICS 193 

tion of the movements of a panic-stricken audience. For 
one thing, the wide disparity in numbers between the 
available house force and the audience would clearly ren- 
der abortive any attempt at such regulation. There are, 
however, well-defined principles, which if carefully ob- 
served will materially assist in directing the movements 
of an audience in case of fire. Firstly, to ensure the best 
results, all employees permanently connected with the thea- 
tre should be organized into exit drill companies, each in- 
dividual member being assigned a special duty. While 
it is both necessary and important that the individual units 
of these companies should be instructed in the handling 
and use of fire equipment and grounded in the rudiments 
of fire extinction, the paramount consideration is the safety 
of the audience and every available means should be util- 
ized of rendering assistance to the ushers whose busi- 
ness it is to obtain its prompt and orderly departure. 
All fire signals should be transmitted by an electrically 
operated alarm system, the recording apparatus of which 
should be placed in the main business office, the box office 
and the stage manager's office. Upon receipt of an alarm 
by the stage manager, or when fire is discovered in the 
stage section before an alarm is struck, the curtain should 
be dropped immediately and the stage manager, one of the 
actors, or the fireman on duty should go before the cur- 
tain and announce the discontinuance of the performance. 
Upon the wording of that announcement and manner of 
its delivery will largely depend the behaviour of the au- 
dience and hence it is strongly recommended that a form 
of announcement should be prepared in advance and copies 
thereof placed in the hands of the various stage employees. 
It should be brief and to the point. 

Something after the following is recommended : 
"I am instructed by the management to announce that 
it will be necessary to discontinue the performance 
and immediately to dismiss the audience. Every 
one in leaving the house should implicitly follow 
the directions of the ushers stationed in each aisle." 



194 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

Of course, the use of music, a lively march or something 
of a stirring character, is an excellent means of keeping an 
audience in hand and getting them away without unneces- 
sary fuss or excitement. But this again presupposes an 
element of control over the orchestra, which it would be 
almost impossible to ensure, unless the same musicians 
were permanently employed and the management were 
satisfied that they could be relied upon to do their duty 
in case of emergency. Otherwise, obviously, they would 
be worse than useless and would probably only augment 
signs of unrest in the most undesirable quarters. 

Another excellent method would appear to be to have 
a large plan of the theatre, with exits clearly marked, 
painted upon the fire curtain and exhibited for a few mo- 
ments during each entre-act. 

After the announcement of the cessation of the per- 
formance has been made from the stage, the ushers should 
move forward to their respective aisles and by word of 
mouth should quietly instruct their charges as to the speed- 
iest way to the street. For the assignment of exits the 
seat-plan on each floor should be divided into sections and to 
each section there should be assigned certain exits accord- 
ing to the relative discharging capacities, so that the time 
required for discharging the number apportioned to any one 
exit would average about the same for all. Each usher 
and doorman should be provided with a copy of the seating 
plan, on which should be indicated the exit assignments 
in detail. Ushers should, of course, be required to remain 
on duty by their respective exits during all performances. 
Fire alarm boxes should be placed in positions where 
they can be conveniently reached, but never in view of 
the audience. For the average theatre, there should be a 
box on each side of the parquet on the wall and in the 
rear of the last row of seats as well as one in the front hall. 
For balcony and galleries there should be also two boxes, 
one on each side behind the last row of seats. For the 
stage there should be one box on the rear wall, a box on 
each side near the proscenium wall and, when necessary, 



THEATRES AND FIRE PANICS 195 

boxes in dressing rooms and the carpenter's shop. The 
boxes in the auditorium should above all else operate as 
noiselessly as possible, as a signal therefrom heard by an au- 
dience would be probably more productive of panic than 
even the sight of the actual fire. All theatres should be in 
direct communication with fire headquarters. 

The system of assigning regular or pensioned firemen 
in uniform or of maintaining private firemen in uniform, 
where the regular force may be unduly depleted by such 
assignment to theatres, is to be commended. Their presence 
undoubtedly does much to inspire confidence and reassure 
an audience in moments of excitement, while naturally their 
superior knowledge and skill enables them to render valu- 
able assistance when required. Finally there should be 
prominently displayed illuminated signs not only over the 
exits themselves, but in all conspicuous places, with arrows 
indicating the shortest and easiest route by which the street 
may be reached. 

No doubt the writer will be told that he has suggested 
counsels of perfection and that if the caution practical 
experience demands in theatres, and which is embodied 
in this chapter, became law, theatrical managers would 
spend all their time in looking after minute details and 
audiences would resent being treated like children. Yet, 
as a matter of fact, in moments of crisis grown people 
are very often akin to children, which is evidenced by 
the fact that under such circumstances it is extraordinary 
how few otherwise level-headed persons will for one mo- 
ment think of leaving a theatre by any other door than 
that through which they entered, quite irrespective of 
convenience of location. And hence it is that those in 
control must devise means to prevent them doing just those 
things which are worst for them, even at the risk of some 
unpopularity. And a fire in a theatre or a panic arising 
from an alarm of one, as has been shown, may lead to 
such ghastly results that it becomes the duty of all municipal 
governments to do all in their power to prevent such an 
occurrence. The writer, without wishing to appear ex- 



196 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

treme, is of opinion that some limitation should be placec 
upon the seating capacity of theatres as distinct fron 
stadia and places of that nature. An audience of i,8o< 
is sufficient to tax all the resources of those responsible ii 
emergencies and is about the maximum number whicl 
can conveniently and quickly pass out of any theatn 
without causing untold confusion in the street, which wil 
in its turn hamper the fire forces. Equally, however, ; 
theatre run along the lines indicated will not only promis 
the maximum of safety, but without exaggeration will af 
ford its patrons a greater amount of security than as a rul 
they will find in their own homes. 



CHAPTER XIV 

THE HIGH PRESSURE SYSTEM 

THE decisive feature governing fire-fighting in all coun- 
tries and under all conditions may in every case be summed 
up in the two words "water supply." Personnel may be 
of the finest, and apparatus of the most complete, but 
both are helpless if the wherewithal to quench the fires 
is lacking. Many disastrous conflagrations have owed 
their magnitude to this circumstance, and it is a curious 
commentary upon municipal intelligence that many large 
cities the world over, surrounded as they are with an 
abundance of water, absolutely lack means for concen- 
trating it at the scene of a serious outbreak. Small 
mains intended for supply under normal circumstances 
become practically useless when great fires are in question. 
Further, fire departments are often criticized by the in- 
experienced in newspapers and elsewhere, for their in- 
ability to check a blaze when the fault really lies with in- 
different "city fathers," who, in their omnipotence disre- 
gard the advice of those, who after all are paid to know, 
and absolutely fail to benefit by past bitter experience. 
During the year 1903, several large fires occurred in New 
York, and several disastrous ones of great magnitude 
throughout the United States. The city had been grow- 
ing steadily, it was recognized that the water mains were 
too small to meet an emergency, and the authorities there- 
upon decided to investigate this most important subject. 
After careful discussion and consultation with eminent 
engineers, it was resolved to install the most up-to-date 
system of water supply known to science, popularly known 

197 



ig8 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

as the "high pressure" service. In its essentials there is 
really nothing very remarkable about the idea, and in 
fact its designation as above is something of a misnomer. 
As a matter of fact the actual pressure off a "high pres- 
sure" main can be equalled by the modern steam fire pump. 
But, whereas the latter is dependent upon the human ele- 
ment in the shape of the fireman who is responsible for the 
stoking of the engine, for the quality of the coal and the 
organization of the fuel supply, and finally for climatic con- 
ditions which, in extreme circumstances must affect in some 
degree an unprotected boiler exposed to the fury of the 
elements, this alternative system is practically indepen- 
dent of all these considerations. Undoubtedly the ideal 
situation for such an installation is in a town which draws 
its water from surrounding mountains, such as in many 
Swiss cities. It stands to reason that if a reservoir or lake 
lies some thousands of feet above the point to be supplied, 
the laws of gravity will insure a steady and continuous 
stream of water at any position in the area connected with 
it by mains at a pressure according to the altitude of the 
source of supply. The fire departments of Switzerland 
have shown themselves keenly alive to these natural advan- 
tages, and the mechanical fire pump is practically unknown 
in their fire departments. But, however, the world has 
not been formed for the convenience of its occupants, and 
hence it is that science has been compelled to step in and, 
by artificial means, to find the solution of the problem. A 
brief description of the "high pressure" system written 
from the standpoint of the fire-fighter will explain the 
scheme of operations, and what applies to one city applies, 
to all intents and purposes, to others. 

The service in the Borough of Manhattan the island 
of Manhattan in the city of New York protects approxi- 
mately 2,600 acres; that in the Borough of Brooklyn, 
about 1,400 acres, and that at Coney Island about 146 
acres. There are two pumping stations in Manhattan, 
with 2,066 hydrants, and some 300,000 feet of mains, chief- 
ly located in the business section of the city. Brooklyn 



THE HIGH PRESSURE SYSTEM 199 

has 1,112 hydrants, including 24 for fire-boat connections, 
while Coney Island possesses 345, including three Monitor 
nozzles. In deciding upon the location of pumping stations, 
prudence naturally directed that they should be placed so as 
to be practically outside the reach of any possible conflag- 
ration, and yet in a position to avail themselves of an 
unlimited supply of water drawn from either fresh or 
salt water sources. Thus the Manhattan stations were 
located at the northwestern and southern ends of the pro- 
tected area, the main features of their construction one- 
story and basement, fire-proof buildings being almost 
identical in both cases. These structures are of sufficient 
size to carry eight pumping units each, though the present 
equipment consists of but six. The contract calls for 
a delivery from each pump of 3,000 gallons of sea water 
per minute against a discharge pressure of 300 pounds per 
square inch, and a suction lift not exceeding twenty feet. 
At the acceptance tests, the fire pumps in each station 
totalled a delivery of about 18,000 gallons per minute at 
the aforesaid pressure, some of the individual pumps dis- 
charging as much as 3,800 gallons. This total can, of 
course, be increased proportionately without change in 
the buildings or mains, by the addition of the two pump- 
ing units for which space has been provided. Fresh water 
for each station is supplied through two twenty-four inch 
mains connected with a third of thirty-six inches diameter. 
The salt water supply is drawn from the North and East 
rivers through two thirty inch pipes. These lead into 
suction chambers directly in front of each station, and 
are so constructed that they are at all times below mean 
low water. This ensures a steady flow and prevents the 
possibility of interruption caused by air being admitted to 
the suction lines. Protection is afforded to the river ends 
of these mains by heavy bulkhead screens, and to the suc- 
tion chambers by weighty bronze shields which are readily 
accessible for cleaning. The pumping units consist of 
centrifugal pumps driven by electric motors, both supported 
on a common bed. Special care as to strength and ability 



200 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

to resist corrosion was expended upon the pumps whid 
run at a speed of 740 revolutions a minute. They ar< 
of the five-stage type, each stage being designed to giv< 
a pressure of sixty pounds to the square inch, or the com 
bined pressure of the five stages, three hundred pound< 
to the square inch, which is the maximum working pressure 
of each unit. It may sound a scientific anomaly, but th( 
fact remains that increase of pressure does not corresponc 
to increase in volume. To frame a crude analogy. Ar 
"ocean greyhound" can steam eighteen knots at an eco- 
nomical coal consumption. Increase her speed two knots 
and the consumption of fuel at once increases out of all pro 
portion to the additional speed. Subsequently, each addi- 
tional knot, or even half -knot, will demand an enormoui 
increase in coal consumption, till eventually a certair 
maximum of speed will have been reached beyond whicl 
it is impossible for the engines to develop sufficient driving 
energy, no matter how much coal be expended. In othei 
words, thereafter, surplus energy becomes waste. 

Now, somewhat similarly, each installation of pumps car 
deliver about 18,000 gallons per minute, at a pressure o1 
three hundred pounds, but a much greater volume of watei 
can be secured by running them at a lower pressure. Thus 
the average pressure required for fire duty is from 12 c 
to 200 pounds at the hydrant, and each station working 
under these conditions will deliver with its present com- 
plement of pumping units, 30,000 gallons of water pel 
minute. Were this volume of water concentrated withir 
a radius of five hundred feet, no imaginable conflagratior 
could survive its attack. The pumping units are set in 
operation by throwing a switch on the main switch board 
which is directly connected with the motors. By this 
means the machines are brought into instant use, and in less 
than one minute the maximum pressure can be developed, 
Current for these motors is furnished locally at a pressure 
of 6,600 volts, and each station has four separate electrical 
feeders, two from the waterside station and two from 
the nearest sub-station. Of these four feeders, two will 



THE HIGH PRESSURE SYSTEM 201 

operate the six pumps, but provision is made for connection 
with the Brooklyn stations of the electric company in that 
borough, this in cases of emergency. Two twenty- four-inch 
mains lead out of each station and traverse practically the 
entire protected area; these are intersected by lateral 
branch pipes of twelve and sixteen inch diameter, which, 
in turn, are cross-connected by twenty-inch mains, at fre- 
quent intervals, the water thus traveling only a short dis- 
tance through a main smaller than twenty inches before 
reaching the hydrants. These latter are connected to the 
mains by eight-inch branch pipes, gates being provided at in- 
tervals of about 250 feet to enable the carrying out of neces- 
sary repairs without affecting any hydrants except those 
directly adjacent to the gate in question. The pipe system 
is so planned, that without excessive drop in pressure due 
to friction loss in the mains, it is possible to concentrate 
20,000 gallons of water a minute upon the average block 
of buildings, or the full capacity of both stations upon 
an area of approximately one-quarter of a square mile. 
Since the work of the fire department commences at the 
hydrant, no part of a "high pressure" system is more 
important in determining its efficiency than the type 
of hydrant employed, which must be ever ready for in- 
stant service. 

Hence, the following points may be tabulated as gov- 
erning the selection of this most essential feature. First- 
ly, suitability of design; this includes workmanship and 
material in order to obtain the maximum of reliable ser- 
vice. Secondly, facility of operation. Thirdly, freedom 
from frictional resistance, to ensure maximum delivery; 
and fourthly, and of supreme importance, perfect drainage 
to obviate all possibility of freezing. Without going into 
a lengthy dissertation upon the specifications prepared and 
the tests carried out, it is sufficient to say that the hydrants 
eventually installed are furnished with four three-inch out- 
lets, which provide a capacity of four two-inch streams 
with seventy-five pounds nozzle pressure, and roughly 
four thousand gallons of water per minute. It was deemed 



202 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

advisable that the main valve in these hydrants, which ii 
six inches in diameter, should open downwards against th< 
pressure to be encountered. In order, therefore, that th< 
operation of opening this valve against the heavy pres 
sures liable to be met with in the service mains shoulc 
be an easy and rapid one, it was so designed that the firs 
three turns of the hydrant wrench should open a pilo 
valve, thereby admitting water to the barrel of the hydrant 
thus equalizing the pressures on both sides of the mail 
valve, after which it can be opened without difficulty o 
resistance. A few seconds is sufficient to accomplish thi 
adjustment of pressures after the application of th 
wrench. 

The operation above described sets in action a dri] 
valve, which closes as the main valve is opened and open 
as the latter closes. There is a connection between th 
drip valve and the sewer, thus ensuring the drainage o 
the hydrant barrel after use. Valves controlling the hos 
outlets are provided with a device which balances the pres 
sures, permitting the former to be opened easily with ; 
five-inch wrench under a pressure of 250 pounds. Need 
less to say, before this system was finally handed over fo 
practical service in the New York fire department, exten 
sive tests were made, two of which are particularly worth; 
of notice. The first took place along the North river fronl 
Twenty-one three-inch lines were stretched from seven hy 
drants, and twelve two-inch and nine one-and-a-half -ind 
nozzles were used. Within two minutes after the order t< 
start water had been given, a nozzle, pressure of eight 
pounds was registered, and so great was the volume o 
water delivered that the streets speedily became a lake an< 
overflowed towards the docks. The second test was evei 
more exhaustive. Twelve three-inch lines with one-and-; 
half-inch nozzles, six Siamese lines with -two-inch nozzles 
a water tower with a two-inch nozzle, and a deck pipe wit' 
a one-and-three-quarter-inch nozzle, were all brought in 
stantaneously into action. One minute after giving th 
order to start, a nozzle pressure of 150 pounds was ob 



THE PIIGH PRESSURE SYSTEM 203 

tained, and in two minutes 195 pounds was registered on 
the one-and-a-half-inch nozzles, and 170 pounds on the 
two-inch. With the nozzles elevated to an arc of eighty 
degrees this pressure carried a solid stream of water one 
hundred feet above the roof of a fourteen-story building. 
The gauge on the water tower at this time registered 270 
pounds. To the layman, even these simple figures may 
seem perplexing, so it may be well to translate hard facts 
into picturesque simile. A stream of water propelled by 
a pressure of two hundred pounds to the square inch strik- 
ing an ordinary office partition at right angles at a distance 
of about one hundred feet, would smash it up as though it 
were so much matchwood and play with its contents like 
a whirlwind. Similarly, the same stream, elevated to 
eighty degrees, could easily clean the cornice of the tallest 
apartment house in Manhattan, or could wash the dome 
of St. Paul's Cathedral in London. 

In 1908, the system was formally turned over to the 
Department, but at the outset the greatest caution was 
observed over its operation. Thus, companies responding 
to an alarm in the high pressure district, as a precaution- 
ary measure, always coupled up to the low pressure hy- 
drants with engines, thus making security doubly sure. 
As the absolute reliability of the new installation became 
increasingly apparent, these precautions were gradually 
withdrawn, till today no engines respond to any fires in the 
high pressure district, unless specially requisitioned. 

Many outbreaks now-a-days are fought and conquered 
with a second alarm assignment, which, before the advent 
of the high pressure system, would have required a fourth 
alarm, a fact which, trivial perhaps to the lay mind, will be 
appreciated by Chiefs of Fire Departments in its full sig- 
nificance. No doubt, the latter have often realized the 
danger of having to draw almost every piece of apparatus 
at their command to a big fire, leaving nothing in reserve 
with which to tackle another outbreak should one then 
occur. Simultaneous calls of this nature tax the wit of 
man to meet, and the days of miracles are past. The first 



204 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

fire can be fought and quelled, but the second, coming wher 
the force is already engaged, forms a very serious menace 
In the high pressure area of New York, four fires oi 
some magnitude have been attacked and suppressed at th( 
same time, not to mention several smaller blazes. That fac 
speaks for itself. Prior to the installation, also, there wa: 
always the fear of a sweeping conflagration after the styl< 
of Baltimore; but that has passed away forever. Nev 
York today is the best fire protected city on the Americai 
continent, but even the knowledge that this is so has no 
prevented further efforts to meet the demands of the situa 
tion. Another pumping station is even now in course o: 
construction and within two years it is confidently expectec 
that the area protected by duplicated high pressure main: 
will amount to over ten thousand acres, this in the mos 
congested and most valuable portion of the city. But t< 
return to the detailed description of the apparatus employee 
in rendering the installation additionally effective. 

The use of centralized energy for delivering water a 
a high pressure throughout an entire system naturally en 
tails upon all the mains and hydrants involved the maximun 
pressure required at any one point. It is, therefore, quit 
likely to happen, that whereas a pressure of 125 pounds wil 
be ample for one fire, another outbreak may occur in th< 
protected area necessitating a pressure of 250 pounds. Thi 
would mean that the pressure would have to be raise< 
suddenly to meet the fresh call, and, coming unexpectedl; 
and unheralded, it might seriously endanger the men operat 
ing at the smaller outbreak. Or, further to illustrat 
this point, it is sometimes desirable to take water from ; 
hydrant for a hand line at seventy-five pounds, and fron 
another outlet to supply a water tower at 225 pounds. T 
permit of this arrangement, a regulating valve, weighing 
only twenty-five pounds has been invented, which is at 
tached to the hydrant outlet. A pressure gauge is insertei 
on the hose side, the regulating valve is opened until th 
gauge needle points to the pressure required, and no matte 
to what extent the pressure on the receiving side is in 



THE HIGH PRESSURE SYSTEM 205 

creased, on the discharging side it remains at the figure 
selected. If a shut-off nozzle is used on the line, auto- 
matically the pressure remains at the figure indicated on 
the gauge. Even the layman will appreciate the enormous 
importance of a valve of this nature, without which the 
system as the whole could not be properly controlled or 
operated to the best advantage. 

In order to guard against the somewhat remote possi- 
bility of a breakdown of all pumping units in both stations, 
provision is made for connecting the fire-boats of the de- 
partment to the high pressure hydrants. By this means 
these boats can deliver 60,000 gallons of water per minute 
at a pressure of 250 pounds. In addition, by this method, 
fire-boats may be made to constitute a valuable auxiliary 
in the case of any great emergency. But, as science is never 
idle and one discovery leads to another, so it 'is with the 
business of fire control, and day by day fresh ideas are 
brought into being, tested and utilized for the common, 
weal. Thus, in the later portions of the city protected 
by the high pressure system, it has been found advan- 
tageous to duplicate the mains and hydrants, so that if 
one set of mains becomes blocked, the other may be brought 
into service without delay. The system is operated as a 
unit, but in case of a break in the mains, it can be divided 
by the closing of the motor valves at selected points. These 
valves are controlled by switches on the pumping station's 
switch board, a row of red and a row of green lights in- 
dicating the two lines of mains. In the event of a break, 
pumps are shut down and the motor valves are immediately 
closed. When the pumps are started again, the pressure 
building up on the line that is intact will be shown by 
the colored lights mentioned. The serviceable main will 
be kept in use at the fire, but the officer in charge must 
wait about one minute in order to see whether the pressure 
is from the red or the green line. As soon as the pressure 
shows on either, those lines connected to that disabled will 
be shifted over to the hydrants on the main intact and the 
fight can be continued with ample water supply. 



206 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

During the continuance of a fire, the Chief operating 
can control the pressure at the pumping station, increasing 
or decreasing the same or stopping it altogether by means 
of a special telephone service run into boxes conveniently 
situated and specially designed for the purpose, which are 
plentifully installed throughout the protected area. This 
system has been found to answer well, though it is open 
to the possibility that orders may be misunderstood from 
one cause or another. Probably some improvement thereon 
may be framed in time as the science of fire-fighting be- 
comes increasingly popular and it is better realised what 
an important part is played by fire control in the daily 
life of the people. For instance, one of the most gratify- 
ing effects of the introduction of the high pressure system 
in New York was the immediate drop in insurance rates. 
In December, 1908, about six months after this system 
had been put into regular use, the New York Fire In- 
surance Exchange made a general reduction of rates 
throughout the high pressure zone in Manhattan, a reduc- 
tion amounting to the respectable sum of $500,000 annually. 
In Brooklyn, likewise, a reduction of $250,000 followed, 
so that the improvement has already saved the taxpayer 
in the community about $750,000 a year. Hence, this 
method is not one of fire control alone, but becomes posi- 
tively a good investment. 

Of course, it may be urged that in the United States, 
the profession of fire-fighting has developed into such a 
highly specialized service and has demanded so many dras- 
tic changes in equipment and maintenance, because the 
risks incurred are proportionately greater than are met 
with elsewhere. There is a measure of truth in this, but 
it is on a par with the individual, who, living in a small 
island, considers motor cars an unnecessary means of 
transportation and railways a wasteful expense, because 
he has always found a horse and trap convenient and suffi- 
cient for his needs. That is, of course, a somewhat ex- 
aggerated simile, but it is an incontrovertible fact that there 
are many otherwise normal citizens in all the countries of 




SWITCH-BOABD AT HIGH PRESSURE PUMPING STATION. 



THE HIGH PRESSURE SYSTEM 207 

the world who view innovation with suspicion and shield 
themselves behind the comfortable assurance that "our 
fathers did very well without all these new fangled notions 
and what was good enough for them is good enough for 
us." This especially as regards municipal outlay on fire 
protection, though in this respect the writer must lay it on 
record that New York has always risen to the occasion in 
the most openhanded manner. For some obscure reason 
the average man objects to putting his hand in his pocket 
for anything in connection with the fire risks of the com- 
munity just as much as though he were being held up 
by a highway robber, and willy nilly had to surrender 
his purse. 

There is no advantage in labouring an obvious point and 
the writer has in his mind not Europe alone, but some 
American cities where the Fire Department is apparently 
regarded as a costly and unnecessary adjunct to the other 
municipal offices. Yet in all fairness to those whose re- 
sponsibility it is to protect the lives and property of those 
given into their charge, there should be no hesitation in 
providing them with the most modern and up-to-date ap- 
paratus for the discharge of their duties. The mathemati- 
cal aspect of the whole question as regards the "high 
pressure" system as a whole, is not a difficult one for 
Fire Committees to understand. Since one "high pres- 
sure" hydrant is the equivalent of six engines of the first 
size, how many hydrants would be equal to the entire 
pumping outfit of the brigade, using an English term, and 
would not the initial expense of installation be more than 
met by decrease in personnel, decrease in insurance rates 
and increase in safety of citizens committed to their charge ? 
The answer to this conundrum should not unduly tax the 
mental equipment even of one of those corporations ad- 
dicted to the traditions of the Medes and Persians. 



CHAPTER XV 

FIRE CONTROL IN SCHOOLS, FACTORIES AND HOSPITALS 

SINCE it is no exaggeration to define panic as one of the 
most effective allies of fire, it is obvious that in dealing 
with buildings occupied by large numbers of either young 
or infirm people, or with places where passing crowds are 
apt to congregate, such as department stores, peculiar pre- 
cautions are necessary. The genesis of many a conflagra- 
tion, attended afterwards with terrible loss of life, is often 
trivial. Taken in time and dealt with coolly it would never 
have developed into a serious outbreak, and equally the 
magnitude of the blaze, as regards actual fire damage, can 
never be accurately gauged by the death roll. Experience 
has shown that in such disasters as many die from suffo- 
cation consequent upon crushing, or from injuries received 
in seeking safety through some desperate and ill-judged 
action, such as jumping into the streets, as perish in the 
flames. Of course, this is natural. A curl of smoke, a few 
sparks and a cry of "fire," and unless beforehand pre- 
pared for this kind of emergency, the primal impulse of 
any one is to reach safety, or what appears safety, as 
quickly as possible. No thought is given as to the best 
mode of exit, misguided instinct suggests the way by which 
one has entered, and instantly corridors, stairways and pas- 
sages become jammed with a frightened, hustling crowd, 
beyond control, and following each other like sheep to the 
shambles. It is this incontrovertible fact which has caused 
the architect to labour towards the design of "panic-proof" 
structures, and has led those interested in fire control to 
devise means which shall render such occurrences rare to 

208 



FIRE CONTROL IN SCHOOLS, ETC. 209 

the point of non-existence. And it must be remembered 
that unfortunately, responsible authorities are called upon to 
frame regulations, oftentimes not for application in modern 
fire-resisting buildings, but for structures composed largely 
of lath and stucco, and which, given the opportunity, would 
burn like tinder boxes. Hence, it seems scarcely necessary 
to emphasize the point that, with the latter, the danger is 
more acute, and above all else there is need for speed and 
sang-froid. Now the only method by which this state of 
affairs can be assured is by a process of accustoming the 
human unit to the conditions likely to arise in a fire emer- 
gency, and this can best be done by means of drill. 

Whether it be employees in a factory, children in a school 
or the staff of a hospital or a department store, exit drills 
should always be enforced, and where circumstances allow, 
provision should be made for some sort of "house" fire- 
fighting force. It must be understood, of course, that the 
latter in no way takes the place of the regular fire depart- 
ment, which should be communicated with at once in all 
cases, but rather is intended to act as an auxiliary pending 
their arrival. It will be convenient to deal seriatim with the 
four types mentioned. In factory buildings particular dan- 
ger attaches to the stairways connecting stories. They can 
only accommodate a limited number of people and form 
dangerous exits for crowds. Congestion at their corners 
means death, and since employees may be expected to vary 
in nationality, misunderstanding of orders becomes more 
probable, and the problem of preventing a panic assumes 
a thorny aspect. In the first place, exit drills should be 
held as often as possible and should include every one in 
the building. When two or three firms occupy the same 
premises there should be cooperation, and the alarms an- 
nouncing these drills should be given from different floors 
in order that practice may be afforded in changing the order 
of precedence for possession of stairways or fire escapes. 
The line of march may be so arranged as to take advantage 
of the additional time required in the descent of those from 
the upper floors, by dismissing such of the lower floors as 






2io FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

would not delay their egress. An exception to this rule 
should be made where buildings are divided by fire walls 
with protected openings, which permit of the transfer of 
occupants in the fire section to the corresponding fire-free 
section on the same floor in the same building, or where 
provision is made for a safe retreat by means of gangways 
leading to adjoining buildings. Incidentally, an excellent 
scheme, where feasible, is to dismiss the employees nightly 
by a fire signal. In assigning stations, the first considera- 
tion is the selection of aisle guards, whose business it is 
to effect line formation, prevent pushing and overcrowding 
and to see that the time honoured precept "women and chil- 
dren first" is observed. All subsequent movements should 
be regulated by a gong or whistle. Thus, the first alarm 
indicating the floor of the outbreak should consist of a 
number of taps indicating the floor. As soon as the first 
stroke sounds, work should cease, and, if possible, all 
power be shut off the machines. Then all stock, chairs or 
benches blocking the aisles should be removed by the em- 
ployees nearest, and placed either above or below the work 
tables. The next movement is to march to the exit passage 
in single or double file. If in the latter, couples should link 
arms for mutual support, the women using the free hand 
to raise their skirts to prevent themselves and those behind 
them from tripping, and each file should move forward, 
observing a uniform distance between the couples. The 
signal to start should be given by the "room captain," and 
under no circumstances should any employee be permitted 
to attempt to secure clothing from locker or cloak room. 
Upon reaching the street the line should be led away to 
a safe distance from the building, and for this duty one 
of the supervisors should be selected and drilled as a guide. 
Elevator attendants should take their cars, upon the first 
sound of a building alarm, to the floor indicated, and hold 
themselves subject to the orders of the "floor chief." In 
high buildings of the fire-resistive type, the operator should 
run his elevator into the fire zone, receive passengers, and 
if conditions favour, discharge them a few floors below. 



FIRE CONTROL IN SCHOOLS, ETC. 211 

The usual difficulty, however, is that floors and stairways 
are so crowded that he has no option but to run to the 
ground floor. The assignment of exits necessarily depends 
upon their number, capacity and location. But it is im- 
portant that all means of egress should be based on ap- 
proximate estimates of their relative discharging capacities, 
which can be readily arrived at by actual tests. 

When possible, provision should be made for the un- 
hampered entrance of firemen, and in the planning of such 
fire drills combinations of exits should be studied. Em- 
ployers having the welfare of their work people at heart, 
can always obtain advice, if in any doubt on this subject, 
from officials of the fire department. All that is intended 
here is to suggest certain simples rules of conduct which 
will tend to prevent confusion and make for safety. The 
location of stairways, fire escapes and other exits should be 
indicated by illuminated signs, and for the information of 
employees, leaflets should be printed in several languages, 
giving the details of the fire drill. It goes without saying 
that all modern buildings of this type should be equipped 
with an electrically operated alarm system, the mechanical 
gong of which could be better heard above the noise of 
any machinery than one struck by the "room captain," and 
would possess the additional advantage of automatically 
operating on all floors from any position. The box sta- 
tions governing these alarms should be accessible only to 
responsible persons. It may be urged that such precau- 
tions presuppose certain members of the staff being pos- 
sessed of intelligence and a considerable amount of or- 
ganizing ability, but as a rule either foremen or forewomen 
in sectional charge of fifty employees will be found to fill 
admirably such executive positions as "room captains." 
They in their turn are naturally subordinate to the man- 
ager, who should accept supreme control and the respon- 
sibility attaching thereto. Aisle guards may be compared 
to lieutenants, should be strong and alert, and owing to 
the fact that they may be required to use some physical 
force, should, when possible, be men. They should be 



212 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

especially watchful of persons stumbling, fainting or becom- 
ing hysterical. Where stair exits have sharp bends, they 
should be stationed there to prevent congestion, and above 
all, they should be made to realize their obligations and 
to feel that their duties are no mere sinecure. Finally, 
there should be at least one male and one female searcher 
on each floor to visit the toilet rooms and other such places, 
where perhaps the fire signal cannot be heard. In buildings 
of an antiquated type these precautions make no pretense 
of securing absolute safety to the individual, but if the 
drills be arranged with the advice of a skilled fire official 
it is probable that panic will not unreasonably seize all in- 
mates, and that the fire department will at least be given 
an opportunity of effecting such rescues as human ingen- 
uity and providence will allow. At any rate they will not 
be met with the appalling conditions which alas, have been 
only too common hitherto, when persons have found 
death needlessly, while safety awaited them with the advent 
of the professional fire-fighters. The fire risk is real enough 
without the additional factors of fright and bad manage- 
ment, and it is to guard against these that the above has 
been suggested. 

One of the most terrible conflagrations of this nature in 
recent years was that which occurred on Saturday, March 
25th, 1911, in the Asch Building, a ten-story structure 
situated at the corner of Washington Place and Greene 
Street, New York City. The following account, vivid in 
its simple realism, is taken from the report of the New 
York Board of Fire Underwriters. 

"Occupancy, 8th, 9th and loth floors. Work rooms, 
show-room and factory, stock-room, pressing and shipping 
department of the Triangle Waist Company. ... On the 
9th floor there were two wooden partitions, one forming 
the cloak room, the other being at the north side enclosing 
the entrance to the freight elevators and stairshaft. . . . 
On the loth floor there were partitions of wood and glass 
forming offices and show-rooms. . . . On the rear of 
the building in the court was an iron fire-escape, the steps 



FIRE CONTROL IN SCHOOLS, ETC. 213 

being 17^ inches wide. The fire-escape did not extend 
to the bottom of the court and the latter had no exit to the 
street. On the eighth floor there were five unbroken rows 
of four-foot tables, each containing a double row of sewing 
machines and shirt waists in process of manufacture. These 
tables extended from the Washington Place front 'south 
wall' to within eighteen feet of the north side of the 
building. This latter space was partially filled with stock, 
principally on tables. An aisle space was also left running 
east and west along the north side. The space along the 
east wall contained the cutting tables. Approximately 275 
operators were on this floor. On the ninth floor there 
were eight unbroken rows of four-foot tables with 300 
operators. There were no aisles running east and west at 
the south side of these floors, the sewing machine tables 
extending close up to the wall. The space between the 
tables was approximately four feet wide and contained 
two rows of chairs back to back. It also contained baskets 
and other receptacles for the goods in process of manu- 
facture. The only convenient way for the operators next 
to the south wall to reach the stairs and elevators at the 
southwest corner, was to walk the entire length of the 
crowded space between the tables to the north side, and 
then use the aisles which extended along the north and 
west sides of the building. . . . 

"The fire started at 4:42 p. M. on the eighth floor in 
the vicinity of the northeast corner of the build- 
ing, almost simultaneously with the signal to stop 
work for the day. It is generally believed to 
have originated from a match or cigarette igniting scrap 
material on the floor in the vicinity of the cutting tables. 
It spread rapidly, however, due to the large quantity of in- 
flammable material consisting chiefly of thin cotton, lace 
and other trimmings. In a very short time the fire had 
spread over the entire floor and communicated, principally 
out and in the windows, to the floors above. In addition 
to the windows, the fire may have communicated from floor 
to floor by way of the stairs and elevator shafts, as the 



214 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

doors were undoubtedly open, in part at least. The plant 
was working overtime when the fire occurred. According 
to the information obtainable the operators crowded in 
among the machines, chairs and goods on the eighth and 
ninth floors, were badly panic stricken immediately after 
the start of the fire, and in consequence made slow progress 
towards the exits. Considerable delay is said to have been 
experienced in opening the doors leading to the stairs at 
the southwest corner of the building as they opened inwards 
and the women became jammed against them. Practically 
the entire loss of life was confined to those employed on 
the ninth floor. More than half of the number said to 
have been on this floor escaped. It seems apparent, how- 
ever, that by the time this number had got out, the elevators 
had stopped running and the flames around the two inside 
stairways and outside fire-escape, both on this floor and 
those adjoining, would not permit any further egress in 
these directions. The result was that all who remained on 
the floor until this condition prevailed were overcome by 
the smoke and fire or jumped from the windows. It is said 
that a few probably twenty from the upper floors de- 
scended by way of the outside fire-escape. These reentered 
one of the lower stories and passed down the stairways. 
Approximately twenty-five bodies were found closely 
jammed in the cloak room, next to the stair shaft at the 
west end of the building. About fifty were found near 
the northeast corner behind the partition and clothes locker 
located thirty inches from the north end of the two tables 
nearest the east wall. Twenty bodies were found near the 
machines where they worked, apparently having been over- 
come before they could extricate themselves. About ten 
are said to have been taken from the bottom of the court on 
the north. The balance of those killed approximately 
forty jumped from the windows to the street." 

There seems to be no doubt that had fire-drill been or- 
ganized amongst these women so great a panic would have 
been avoided. But in the opinion of the writer automatic 
sprinklers would in all probability have averted the disaster 




WATER TOWER AT WORK. 



FIRE CONTROL IN SCHOOLS, ETC. 215 

as "their operation would have turned in an immediate 
alarm and the delay in sending in an alarm contributed 
greatly to the appalling loss of life. It must, how- 
ever, be remarked that the fire-escape in the rear 
of this building was quite inadequate for the needs 
of the situation, as in order to gain the street, 
it will be noticed, that those using it were obliged to reenter 
one of the lower stories and pass thence down the main 
stairway to the front door. In addition, doors should 
never be constructed to open inwards. 

Turning now to the problem of schools; in its essentials 
this is in many ways akin to that of factories, with the 
outstanding difference, that in dealing with children even 
greater care must be exercised by the supervisors or "room 
captains." These should be chosen from amongst the teach- 
ers, and their duties with regard to their charges should 
be along precisely similar lines to those already laid down, 
though it should be borne in mind that personal influence 
here plays a greater part. Where pianos or other instru- 
ments are available an excellent plan is the use of march- 
time music to assist in steadying the lines of scholars after 
a fire alarm. Incidentally, school should always be dis- 
missed once a day in accordance with the practices of fire 
drill. In the matter of exits, preference should be given 
to the classes of smaller children, and it is particularly 
urged that exits for infants should be smoke-proof and 
of sufficient width to accommodate double lines of two 
children each. Further, as far as the construction of the 
building will allow, the convergence of two columns in 
narrow halls or stairways should be particularly avoided. 
This is only too liable to cause confusion, which in the 
event of the building being a quick-burner, may result 
in terrible loss of life. In schools of advanced grades, 
where there are boys of a certain age, it is a good system 
to organize a small fire-fighting force to use the chemical 
extinguishers common to all public institutions, and from 
the nature of the duty, youngsters are likely to become 
enthusiastic over, and expert in, their management. 



216 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

Since example is proverbially better than precept, the 
following accounts of two school fires, widely differing in 
ultimate results but having many points in common, may 
be not without interest to the general reader. 

In Collinwood, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, there stood 
on the 4th of March, 1908, a large school accommodating 
over eight hundred children. The day was a warm one 
and there was but a small fire in the furnace, which was 
situated under the front stairs. Before the noon recess 
the janitor in charge noticed a thin stream of smoke com- 
ing from the basement and at once gave the alarm. On 
the ground floor the children were marched out quietly, 
calm in the belief that the signal was for drill, but before 
the anxious teachers on the next two floors could marshal 
their charges the fire had gained such ground that all 
escape by the front door was impossible. As the children 
neared this exit they were driven back by the smoke which 
confronted them and fought to reascend the stairs, only to 
be pushed down into the flames by the excited and fright- 
ened little mob still descending. In the drills used, both 
teachers and children had been accustomed to employ only 
the front door as a means of egress, and the fact that this 
means was debarred them seems to have had a paralyzing 
effect upon all intelligence and action. By the time the 
second stairway leading to a door in the rear was thought 
of, the children were entirely out of hand, and when this 
door was found to be locked the situation became un- 
controllable. Parents brought to the scene by the sight 
of the smoke and the shrieks of the children in distress 
stood helpless, as did the firemen. In this suburb the only 
force available was that of volunteers, whose apparatus was 
inadequate, having no ladders long enough to reach the 
third floor and who were unable to obtain sufficient water 
pressure to extinguish the fire in the second story. One 
desperate mother, aided by an unknown man, tried vainly 
to open the rear door, behind which muffled sobs and groans 
told of the extremity of the little ones within. But her 
efforts were fruitless, and with her bare hands she succeeded 






FIRE CONTROL IN SCHOOLS, ETC. 217 



in breaking some panes of glass in adjacent windows and 
managed by this means to drag to safety a few semi- 
conscious tots. None of the children righting and strug- 
gling for life behind this pitiless barrier was more than 
fourteen years of age, and many were only six and seven. 
At the front door the weight of human bodies became so 
great that it collapsed and showed to the agonized spec- 
tators, many of them parents, a heap of little forms caressed 
by the flames and half hidden by the smoke. Amongst 
this pile was one small girl of ten, whose father arrived 
in time to make a futile attempt to pull her from the death 
awaiting her. Still alive, but crushed and horribly burnt, 
she was able to hold out her feeble arms to him, and he, 
heedless of the peril of his own position and intent only 
on the saving of his daughter, worked frantically until his 
own injuries prevented further effort. Another child was 
recognized by her mother. Their hands met, when a piece 
of broken glass fell on the mother's wrist practically se- 
vering it from the arm. As the grip of the two hands 
relaxed the daughter fell back into the blazing pyre to be 
seen no more. In thirty minutes from the time of the first 
alarm nothing remained of the building but four blackened 
and uncovered walls and a smouldering heap of wreckage, 
some of which had once been human beings. 

It was only then that the firemen were able to enter 
the ruins, and there was virtually nothing for them to do. 
Of the 810 children who had taken in their books that 
morning, about 170 had perished, and with them had died 
two teachers in the vain attempt to lead their charges to 
safety. The rear door, also, was broken down by the 
number of little ones who had been packed so closely against 
it that their combined weight caused the lock to give, when 
too late. Practically all the bodies were unrecognizable, 
and frenzied relatives were unconvinced of the losses in 
their homes until the roll had been called. The origin of 
the fire still remains unknown; it may have been due to 
defective flues or to carelessness, but, be that as it may, the 
results of this catastrophe carried mourning into hundreds 



218 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

of homes and once again emphasized the pressing need of 
every known structural precaution in such buildings plus 
better considered planning of drills. 

It is a relief to turn from the recitation of such horrors 
to the narration of a brighter and happier story. In 
Raleigh, a small town in North Carolina, on Friday morn- 
ing, February I4th of the present year, a fire broke out 
in an old wooden school building, which, from its con- 
struction was a veritable fire-trap. In spite of the fact 
that the halls and rooms were filled with smoke before the 
350 children could be got into line, their order was unbroken 
and their courage unshaken as they marched through the 
suffocating atmosphere to the doors and down the wet 
fire escapes. The principal of the school was notified 
of the danger by one of her subordinates; quickly closing 
the doors in the upper hall she gave the signal for the drill 
which her pupils had often practised. At the tap of the 
gong every child fell into line, those downstairs going out 
of the front and main entrances, while those on the upper 
stories descended to the streets by ihe two fire escapes, 
which were wet and sticky from the snow that had fallen 
during the morning. All was as orderly as a stage rehear- 
sal. Even the smallest tots followed the elder ones without 
the slightest confusion. There was no attempt to get hats 
or wraps or books. The whole operation occupied only 
three-quarters of a minute, which was better time than had 
ever before been made in practice. Parents who had 
rushed to the scene, dreading the terrible sights which 
might meet their eyes, saw an orderly procession of young- 
sters march out of the building, filled though it was with 
smoke and flames. Owing to the snow and the slippery 
condition of the streets, the fire department had been ap- 
preciably delayed in responding to the alarm, and had it 
not been that the Fire Chief had insisted on and enforced 
the precautions of daily drill amongst the pupils, the loss 
of life might have been appalling. In the opinion of the 
writer, all concerned deserve the maximum of praise; the 
head of the Fire Department, Sherwood Brockwell, a 






FIRE CONTROL IN SCHOOLS, ETC. 219 



graduate of the New York Fire College, for his insistence, 
the Superintendent for the intelligent way in which the 
children had evidently been trained, and the latter for their 
coolness and evident trust in their teachers. It is no ex- 
aggeration to say that the fire peril could be practically 
eliminated in schools, were the example of Raleigh fol- 
lowed. At the same time it is absolutely incomprehensible 
how sane persons, ignorant though they might be of the 
elementary principles of fire control, could allow so glar- 
ingly foolish an arrangement to be made as that which 
permitted the placing of a furnace immediately under the 
front stairs of a school building, apart from these having 
been constructed of wood. Under any circumstances, heat- 
ing apparatus of that nature should be located in a separate 
structure adjacent to, but isolated from, the school itself. 

Should fire occur during school hours the officer in com- 
mand of the fire force can ascertain quickly from 
either the Principal or teachers the location of the 
fire, which will govern his subsequent actions. Should 
it be in the upper floors the entrance must not be 
attempted by doors or stairways by which the children 
are leaving, though use may, of course, be made of any 
unused stairway. By a ladder raised to an upper window 
a line of hose should be quickly brought to bear on the 
blaze, care being exercised to drive it back from the exits. 
Other lines as necessary will be placed similarly and the 
fire thus held in check till all the scholars are out of the 
danger zone. Then, should the fire assume dangerous pro- 
portions, it may be fought as in other buildings, i. e., by 
stairways both front and rear, and if necessary from both 
sides. 

Too much emphasis cannot be laid upon the necessity of 
preventing excited parents and others rushing to the en- 
trances by which the children are leaving the building, 
breaking the line, causing confusion and retarding the exit 
of those still within. However good their intent, their in- 
terference must work mischief. It is imperative that the 
children be kept marching until all are safely out of dan- 



220 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

ger. Officers in command should see that an adequate 
force of police and firemen are told off for this important 
duty. 

The safety of the shopping public in the enormous de- 
partment stores, which have latterly sprung up in all Amer- 
ican cities, and for that matter, in Europe as well, is in 
itself one of the most difficult problems which those inter- 
ested can possibly face. Here there is no question of 
drilling regular habitues, for the population is a floating 
one, that is to say, the attendants and employees may be 
trained till they are expert in the duties assigned to them, 
but the dealing with, and dispersal of, great hordes of 
strangers is one that requires almost superhuman manage- 
ment and foresight. In fact, in the opinion of many it is 
impracticable; drills are rendered difficult by the constant 
presence of strangers, a test alarm may produce a panic, 
when even those gifted with the maximum of human 
magnetism would find the control of strange crowds be- 
yond their powers. But, at least, precautions can be and 
are taken. 

Abroad, as well as in the United States, efforts have 
been made by private fire departments, which should al- 
ways be captained by retired officers of regular fire bri- 
gades, and by the organization of all employees into a homo- 
geneous unit of action, in the event of crisis to grapple with 
the events likely to occur so far as circumstances will allow. 
No human agency can do more. The study of scientific fire 
control is of recent growth, and many of the great em- 
poria which dot the cities of the world are the result of 
evolution, but as a rule when additions are made to such 
structures, they are subjected to the most searching of fire 
tests and the writer can aver from personal experience in 
New York that neither time nor money has been spared 
to render the same as secure as is feasibly possible. In 
addition, it must be understood that under no circum- 
stances can effective drills be carried out, i. e., as though 
under emergency conditions, unless the temper of the public 
changes in an amazing degree. However, it is always 



FIRE CONTROL IN SCHOOLS, ETC. 221 

practicable to construct some sort of edifice even upon the 
most insecure of foundations, and certain primary pre- 
cautions though in no way adequate properly to control 
the situation, may go a long way towards the prevention 
of a disastrous panic. 

In brief, all that has been written may be taken as sup- 
plying in embryonic form the basis of department store 
exit drill; that is to say, there should be capable "floor 
masters," capable "guards," and by private instruction the 
actions of all concerned should be regulated. Owing to 
the fact that many of the employees are women and girls, 
men should be chosen to fill executive posts, that some 
chance be given to their weaker colleagues to make their 
escape, whatever occurs. Upon the first signal of the 
alarm, each member of the staff should, as in factory drill, 
clear all gangways of either rubbish, stock or obstructions. 
They should then form in double lines along the aisles 
leading to the exits. Those not actively employed in the 
emergency organization should then form squads and in 
pairs, women holding up their skirts, march to the exit 
they have been previously instructed to use. The elder 
women in all departments should be trained to lead these 
lines and, incidentally, their example is sure to have a 
steadying effect upon both their subordinates and their 
customers. But the real problem is concentrated in how 
effectually to deal with the casual public, who throng 
these buildings daily to so great an extent that it is esti- 
mated not less than ten thousand persons are sometimes 
on the premises at the same moment. Apart altogether 
from the private fire brigades maintained by these estab- 
lishments, apart altogether from fire escapes and the most 
modern fire precautions, this constitutes the real peril which 
must be initially overcome. It can only be accomplished 
by constant and painstaking training of every individual 
employee and by their example, coupled with the exer- 
tions of aisle guards, who will indicate to the flurried and 
hysterical, how safety may be most easily reached. At 
such a moment one cool floor-walker with his wits about 



222 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

him will potentially save more lives than the best equipped 
fire department which ever travelled the streets. Con- 
quering a fire is one thing, conquering a panic another, and, 
whereas even after its inception, prompt action may quell 
the former, the latter belongs to the elemental side of human 
nature and as such is beyond the reach of science or ap- 
paratus. 

As for structural safeguards, the disposal of rubbish 
and other means towards fire control, they are dealt with 
elsewhere, though the cardinal factor of human tempera- 
ment can never be altered or modified by such ex- 
ternal measures, except inasmuch as the knowledge of 
their presence tends, to a certain degree, to alleviate 
fear. 

If the employees of a department store are faced with 
an enigma in dealing with their customers, then most as- 
suredly the staff of any hospital have every reason to fear 
fire and its accompanying risks. Here the problem is com- 
plicated by the absolute helplessness of the patients and the 
possibility that severe shock, in some instances, may result 
in death. But on the other hand, nurses, attendants and 
doctors are all persons of superior intelligence and may 
be expected to carry out instructions, not like automatons, 
according to the letter, but with due regard to prevailing 
conditions. 

Equally, fire control in hospitals has for long absorbed 
the ingenuity of architects with the result that, generally 
speaking, they are well safeguarded. At the same time, 
however, certain simple devices can easily be installed, 
amongst the most valuable of which are "fire breaks," 
which acting automatically accomplish in corridors with 
flames precisely what watertight doors accomplish in ships 
with water. In other words, they delay the enemy, and 
if unsuccessful in their passive defense, at least hold him 
in check long enough to insure the adoption of precau- 
tionary measures for those concerned. In simple language, 
they may be described as iron drop-doors, which being 
operated, cut off the area involved from the rest of the 



FIRE CONTROL IN SCHOOLS, ETC. 223 

building. Further, though properly speaking this is a 
structural safeguard, the employment of fire-towers is 
strongly to be recommended. These consist of a covered 
staircase adjacent to, but distinct from, the main building, 
and connected by iron gangways at each floor. Thus, by 
closing the exit doors, which are fireproof, a completely 
isolated staircase is formed, down which patients can be 
moved to safety without hurry or alarm. Incidentally,- 
these towers form admirable adjuncts to all classes of 
structures and public edifices habitually frequented by num- 
bers of persons of both sexes and all ages. It seems un- 
necessary to insist once more upon the careful disposal of 
all rubbish, since such a precaution appears to belong to 
the obvious. But the writer's experience has taught him 
that it is precisely the most ordinary safeguards which 
are habitually neglected. 

Finally, the following recommendations may be accepted 
as applicable to all classes of buildings, and if adopted, 
promise a large measure of safety for occupants. 

(a) All stairways or a sufficient number of them should 
be located in fireproof shafts, having no communication 
with the main structure, except indirectly by way of an 
open-air balcony, or vestibule, on each floor. Hose con- 
nections attached to standpipes should be located on each 
floor in the stair-towers available either for public or 
private fire department use. 

(b) Stairs, if any, inside the building, and elevators, 
should be enclosed in shafts of masonry, and have fire doors 
at all floor communications. 

(c) Old buildings with inadequate fire escapes should 
be provided with automatic sprinklers, or smoke-proof stair 
towers, but outside fire-escapes passing in front of or near 
windows should be discouraged. 

(d) All factory buildings employing operators in the 
manufacture of inflammable goods should be fitted with 
automatic sprinklers, and this system should likewise be 
extended to all classes of structures generally frequented 
by a considerable number of persons. 



224 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

(e) Large floor areas should be subdivided by fireproof 
partitions or brick walls. 

The above are not counsels of perfection and are well 
within the reach of those having the safety of their fellow- 
creatures at heart. 



CHAPTER XVI 

FIRE-FIGHTING IN THE UNITED KINGDOM 

COMPARISONS are often instituted between the fire risks 
of London and New York. It is glibly pointed out by sta- 
tisticians with facile pens that, whereas for every one 
hundred thousand inhabitants, London averages eighty-one 
and New York three hundred fires, and whereas the popu- 
lation of London is considerably greater than that of New 
York, ergo, fire control in the former city has attained 
to a higher degree of scientific evolution than in the latter, 
and further deductions are drawn according to the nation- 
ality and enthusiasm of the individual. But such reasoning 
is founded upon the superficial aspect of the subject, with- 
out taking into consideration the numerous contributive fac- 
tors governing the problem. In the first place, in making 
these invidious comparisons, writers forget that units of 
apparatus, ability of personnel and general efficiency may 
be on a par in two separate fire-fighting organizations, but, 
owing to local causes and climatic conditions, the annual 
record of the two may be widely divergent. New York 
has certain disadvantages with which to contend. Its mod- 
ern buildings are the highest in the world, in themselves 
a staggering question for the fire-fighter ; in portions of the 
city there are streets comprising nothing but wooden build- 
ings which burn like torches; extremes of climate render 
fires more prevalent and more hazardous; the alien popu- 
lation is vast and criminally careless; and, finally, un- 
fortunately, "arson" has grown to be regarded amongst 
undesirables as a legitimate and easy way of obtaining 

insurance as a form of income. Any unprejudiced ob- 

225 



226 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

server will allow that in these respects London is more 
fortunately situated, which admission detracts in no whit 
from the standard of excellence of both departments, which 
are well worthy of the great capitals they represent. In 
considering rather more particularly the outstanding fea- 
tures of its brigade, London, in common with all other 
English cities, has no need for the heavy appliances usually 
seen in America. Owing to the narrow tortuous streets 
in all ancient towns, the manipulation of weighty apparatus 
with lengthy wheel bases becomes practically impossible, 
while the average building constructed of stone and of only 
four or five stories in height does not constitute a grave 
fire risk. The residential area of London is chiefly com- 
posed of such erections, and even in the wealthier suburbs, 
where the houses stand in their own grounds, this fact 
of itself is sufficient to prevent a serious conflagration. In 
the eastern section of the Metropolitan district and along the 
docks and wharves lining the river Thames, the risks are 
materially greater, and hence there is a considerable con- 
centration of strength in this locality, though it is worthy 
of note that of the sixty-five outbreaks classified as serious 
during the year 1911, about thirty-four occurred in quarters 
inhabited by aliens, a sufficiently good indication of the 
truth of the preceding statement, that these foreign colonies 
are a fruitful source of anxiety to the authorities of any 
city. It is also of interest that of the grand total of four 
thousand and odd fires during that year, no less than 1762 
were directly attributed to carelessness, while only twenty- 
eight resulted from arson. Prior to the year 1866 the pro- 
tection of London from fire depended upon an organization 
known as "The London Fire Engine Establishment," which 
consisted of only one hundred and thirty officers and men, 
operating seventeen stations. The cost of its mainten- 
ance was chiefly borne by fire insurance companies and its 
duties were practically confined to "fire quenching." For 
the saving of life from fire during many years, the "Royal 
Society for the Protection of Life from Fire," which was 
supported by voluntary contributions, supplied and manned 



FIRE-FIGHTING IN THE UNITED KINGDOM 227 

some eighty-five fire-escapes which were stationed in va- 
rious parts of the city, few being in the suburbs. There 
were in addition, several so-called volunteer fire brigades, 
which were not under the direct control of any recog- 
nized authority, and proved a veritable thorn in the flesh 
to the Municipality. Having no definite financial support, 
they employed "collectors," with the result that the un- 
fortunate rate-payers were solicited for contributions to- 
wards associations which, with rare exceptions, seldom 
performed any useful service, and for the disposal of whose 
funds there was no adequate guarantee. Moreover, it was 
customary for these gentlemen to wear a uniform similar 
to that of the professional fire-fighters, causing a good deal 
of acrimonious confusion amongst those who were under 
the impression that they had contributed towards the funds 
of the professional fire brigade. 

The Act of Parliament of 1865, however, put an end 
to this ambiguous state of affairs, and on January ist of 
the following year the Metropolitan Board of Works as- 
sumed the responsibilities of the two first mentioned or- 
ganizations, under the title of "The Metropolitan Fire 
Brigade." As for the volunteers, they lingered for some 
time, being disbanded one by one, till in 1900, the sole 
surviving company, located in Islington, closed its doors. 
The funds provided by the aforesaid Act for the main- 
tenance of the Brigade were: (A) contributions by the 
fire insurance companies at the rate of 35 ($175) per 
million of the gross amounts insured by them in respect 
of property in London. This was calculated to bring in 
about 10,000 ($50,000) annually, while in addition, the 
buildings and staff of the "London Fire Engines Estab- 
lishment" were handed over free of charge. (B) A gov- 
ernment grant of 10,000 ($50,000) a year, in considera- 
tion of the protection afforded public buildings and offices. 
(C) The produce of a halfpenny rate (i cent) on all the 
rateable property in London, which, it was estimated, would 
realize a sum of 30,000 ($150,000) a year. It will thus 
be seen that less than half a century ago it was decided 



228 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

after careful debate that the fire control of London could 
be accomplished for the expenditure of 50,000 ($250,000) 
per annum, whereas today it costs in the neighbourhood of 
270,000 ($1,350,000) or more than five times as much, 
and there is no probability of any finality having been 
reached. To defray this constant increase, varied legisla- 
tion was introduced, till the Local Government Act of 1888 
virtually repealed any limitation of the amount which might 
be raised from the rate-payers for fire brigade purposes. 
Incidentally, it is an interesting historical fact that the 
year 1865, which saw the birth of the modern London 
Fire Brigade likewise witnessed the genesis of the existing 
New York Fire Department. 

The first Chief of the newly formed organization was 
the late Captain Sir Eyre Massey Shaw, K.C.B., who, an 
Irishman by birth, had previously been in charge of the 
Belfast Fire Department and whose subsequent twenty-five 
years of service with the London command witnessed the 
stations of the Brigade quadrupled, and the strength of 
the personnel increased from one hundred and thirty to 
seven hundred men. 

Amongst the more important changes which he intro- 
duced were the street fire alarm system and the substitution 
of telephonic for telegraphic communication between sta- 
tions. From its formation until 1904, the force was known 
as the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, when, with the sanction 
of Parliament, it was designated the London Fire Brigade. 
The old title was somewhat misleading, since large districts 
in the London area are outside London county proper, and 
though on occasion the services of the Brigade may be 
summoned to assist suburban fire departments, it is then 
entitled to make a pecuniary charge for the same. Thus, 
for the attendance of a steam fire-engine the scale of 
payment is a preliminary fee of 2 ($10), with an addi- 
tional i ($5) for every hour or part of an hour during 
which it may be working. A fireboat costs as much as 
6 ($30) for the initial expense of its attendance, each 
succeeding hour being rated at i($5). The manner in 



p 

FIRE-FIGHTING IN THE UNITED KINGDOM 229 

which this expense must be borne is clearly indicated in the 
following excerpt from the official regulations: "In such 
cases the owner and occupant of the property on which 
the fire occurs are jointly and severally liable to pay a 
reasonable charge in respect of the attendance of the bri- 
gade." This in itself is sufficiently clear, at least in theory, 
but in practice there must at times be some difficulty in col- 
lecting such charges, in which case presumably the rate- 
payers of the borough concerned must be held responsible. 
Without wishing to be hypercritical, it does appear to the 
writer that such a system is open to grave disadvantages, 
since it is seldom the destruction of one individual building 
which is at stake, but rather the possibility of the fire spread- 
ing and endangering a large area. On the other hand, it 
may be argued that those who do not assist in supporting 
the organization have no right to expect the free use of its 
apparatus and personnel. Hence, it becomes a question 
beyond the criticism of one not conversant with local con- 
ditions. To accommodate the London Brigade there are 
eighty-three stations or engine houses, though in addition 
there still remain some of the old "street stations/' wooden 
shelters in which as a rule are kept extension ladders and 
which, owing to the inconvenience they cause vehicular 
traffic, are fast being superseded. 

For the extinction of riverside or wharf outbreaks, 
fireboats are stationed at certain points on the river, their 
crews being lodged either in adjacent fire-stations or in 
buildings especially erected for the purpose. The general 
principle determining the distribution of fire-stations in 
London is the necessity of ensuring (a) the speedy arrival 
after a call of life-saving and fire-extinguishing appliances 
at any spot in the protected area; (b) the concentration 
of one hundred men within fifteen minutes in any dangerous 
location for large fires. On receipt of an alarm, the fire 
appliances turn out with all possible speed, sliding poles for 
men on duty and automatic hitches for harnessing the 
horses being now of almost universal adoption and render- 
ing a start feasible within the space of a few seconds. It 



230 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

is the custom for the life-saving appliances to leave first, 
which on the face of it is humanitarian, though perhaps 
not eminently practical. Unaided by other apparatus, ex- 
cept under rare circumstances, it can accomplish little. All 
appliances at the station nearest to the scene of an outbreak 
are withdrawn for service, leaving one man behind in the 
watch-room to preserve telephonic communication between 
the officer in charge at the fire and the district superinten- 
dent, while the former has power also to obtain the assist- 
ance of the engines located at the station next to his. Ar- 
rived at the outbreak, the fire chief classifies it according 
to its severity, and transmits one of the three following 
calls: I. The "Home call," which signifies that he is con- 
fident that he can deal with it by means of the apparatus 
at his command. 2. The "District call," which means 
that more assistance is required, but that it can be obtained 
from adjacent stations, and, 3. The "Brigade call," which 
is an appeal to headquarters for both men and apparatus. 
Such a system, certainly, as applied to any city with a con- 
siderable fire risk, is open to grave defects. In the first 
place the telephone operator left at the station of the first 
alarm is in a difficult position if another alarm comes in 
from the surrounding neighbourhood, and might well be- 
come flurried and misunderstand orders. It is imperative 
that there should be direct communication between the Fire 
Chief and his lieutenants, otherwise there can be little 
hope of effective cooperation. In addition no provision 
is made for one engine house to cover another, so that in 
the event of several fires in the same area all can be quickly 
and efficiently attacked. The policy employed appears 
rather to be one of centralization of men and apparatus, 
robbed of half its efficacy by roundabout and clumsy means 
of giving and receiving orders. At any rate, it is certain 
that in a city like New York the practice of taking all the 
appliances from a fire station and leaving it unprotected 
would be fraught with the most terrible danger to public 
property and would, in fact, never be tolerated by those 
responsible. Local conditions may vary and materially in- 



FIRE-FIGHTING IN THE UNITED KINGDOM 231 

fluence fire organization, but the cardinal points of fighting 
strategy are the same the world over and, as in regular 
warfare, one of the most important is ever to be prepared 
for a flank or rear attack. 

The present strength of the London brigade con- 
sists of one Chief Officer, four Divisional officers, 
211 subordinate officers, and 1,163 ran ^ anc * ^ e 
including men under instructions, pilots and coachmen. 
Considering the prevailing wages in England, the scale of 
payments is adequate, starting with 1,000 ($5,000) a year 
for the Chief, a maximum of 245 ($1,225) for Superin- 
tendents, while the ordinary fireman receives 35/- ($8.75) 
a week after qualifying as efficient and passing certain 
tests. Quarters are provided for single and married men 
alike, a minimum charge being made for the same ranging 
from 4/- ($i) per week for married firemen to i/- (25 
cents) for single men. Incidentally it is compulsory to live 
in these quarters, which are in every case situated over 
the engine houses. After five years of approved service 
and less than fifteen, there is a gratuity of one month's 
pay for each year of such service. Upon the completion of 
fifteen years, three-tenths of the pay then being received 
is allocated as pension. Those who serve for a longer period 
receive corresponding increases, until, with twenty-eight 
years of service, the pension amounts to two-thirds of the 
nominal pay. In the event of those incapacitated from 
further service through injuries received in the execution 
of their duty, a special allowance is made according to the 
particular merits of the case. Pensions are also allowed to 
the widow, and children of officers and men killed while 
on duty. The regulations are unusually considerate in that 
in the case of a widow remarrying, although her pension is 
to be suspended from the date of her remarriage, should she 
for the second time become a widow, it may be restored 
on proof that her circumstances are such that it is necessary 
for her support and that she is deserving of the public 
bounty. 

For many years it was customary to enroll as firemen 



232 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

none but seafaring men, but lately this has been 
modified and now entry to the brigade's ranks is open to 
all possessed of the necessary qualifications. As regards 
promotion, this is limited, inasmuch as the senior officers 
of the force are usually drawn from the executive branch 
of the Royal Navy, or are engineers of repute in some 
specialized section of their chosen profession. This forms 
a radical difference between the practice, not alone of the 
United States, but of most foreign countries. True, in Ger- 
many and France, senior officers are men of naval or mili- 
tary training, but they join the fire service as youths and 
work their way up through the various degrees of command 
in a precisely similar manner as they would were they 
attached to the Army or Navy. But the point is that they 
are thoroughly trained at every step and though the system 
is by no means ideal, it is preferable to the appointment 
of officers to a highly scientific corps, who though no doubt 
able and intelligent men cannot possibly possess either theo- 
retical or practical knowledge of the subject with which 
they are called upon to deal. In America it is no exag- 
geration to say that every newly enlisted fireman is a po- 
tential chief; it depends solely upon the ability and 
determination of the individual whether or no he shall rise 
to a position of executive importance, or whether he shall 
spend all his days in the ranks. This must prove a powerful 
incentive to any normal character to go forward and win, 
and it may be asserted without fear of contradiction that the 
fireman devoid of ambition is of little use to any fire 
department. It has been argued time and again that the 
rank and file are apt to prove insubordinate when one of 
their number is delegated to be in command over them. 
Certainly in American fire practice this has never proved 
the case. Rather has it been the opposite, and the men 
have been proud in the success of one of their comrades. 
Further, in the opinion of the writer, the profession of 
fire-fighting is one which demands that those adopting it 
as a calling should be equally versed in all branches of its 
requirements in practice and theory. This entails actual 



FIRE-FIGHTING IN THE UNITED KINGDOM 233 

experience in physically as well as mentally fighting fires. 
It means familiarity with the handling of hose, the man- 
agement of extension ladders and that intimacy with fire 
as an enemy which can only be gained first-hand. It goes 
without saying that the officer in charge of a battleship's 
barbette guns is thoroughly conversant with every detail 
of their mechanism, with their muzzle velocities, with their 
arc of fire, with the individual merits of their projectiles, 
be they armour-piercing or high explosive. In fact, he is 
a master of craft learned in the school of experience. Why 
then should less be expected of, or demanded from, officers 
in charge of equipment with which to fight every whit as 
dangerous an enemy as ever sailed a sea, when lives unnum- 
bered and property beyond calculation may depend 
upon their actions, and when it must be remembered that 
every fight is a I'outrance, without chance of armistice. 

Turning now to the matter of appliances, the eighty-six 
fire stations are equipped with seventy-two horsed steam 
fire-engines, three steam and fifteen petrol motor fire- 
engines, sixteen mechanically driven fire-escapes, one hun- 
dred and ninety-one ordinary fire-escapes, ninety-four hook 
and ladder trucks, eleven hose and coal vans, one motor 
lorry, ninety hose carts, and fifty-six miles of hose, not 
including a large amount of smaller apparatus. Of the 
steam fire-engines, it is noticeable that some of them, though 
of antiquated pattern, are still adequate for useful service, 
thus one has been in use since 1878, or over a quarter of 
a century. All the modern types are double-cylindered, 
their average pumping capacity being one and three-quarters 
English gallons per revolution. In every case, axles and 
wheels are made to gauge and are interchangeable. Some 
of the engines are fitted with burners for using petroleum 
as fuel. For a number of years it has been the practice 
to keep a sufficient pressure of steam in the boilers of all 
engines to enable a full working head to be obtained in 
from two to three minutes after leaving the station. 

Since 1901, motor traction has been gradually introduced, 
and though the steam-propelled fire-engines have not given 



234 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

entire satisfaction and are even now for sale, there is no 
doubt, as elsewhere, that motor traction has come to stay, 
and in course of time the horse will be eliminated from the 
department. As regards ladders, the largest in use by the 
brigade are those of eighty-two feet, that being their verti- 
cal height from the ground when fully extended. Being 
heavy and requiring a strong crew, they are used primar- 
ily for facilitating fire-extinguishing operations. The work 
of their extension is controlled by a small motor, worked 
by a compressed carbonic acid arrangement, or in emer- 
gency by hand, and being mounted on a turn-table fixed to 
a horse-drawn carriage, are known generally as "turn-table 
long ladders." For regular "fire-escape work," the ladders 
used are fifty-five and seventy feet, of the telescopic pat- 
tern. Motor-escapes are being introduced, but their use has 
by no means become general. As regards horse-drawn ap- 
pliances, which are still largely in the majority, the animals 
are hired from job-masters, and the price paid, including 
ordinary harness, fodder, straw, and stable utensils, 
amounts to about 70 ($350) per horse per annum. The 
job-masters take all risks. At stations where automatic 
harness is in use belonging to the department, a reduction 
f 55/- ($ J 3) is made. Practically all the horsed escapes 
are fitted with appliances known as first-aid fire-extinguish- 
ing machines. These consist of a tank containing water 
connected with a cylinder of compressed air, which, being 
operated, can maintain a jet for from four to four and 
a half minutes. There are about eighty-one of these ap- 
pliances in use, but the chemical engine, per se, is unknown. 
Such additional apparatus as cellar pipes, smoke helmets 
and a small number of hook ladders are in regular use, 
but it is noticeable that the water tower and other forms 
of heavy equipment are lacking, which is to be accounted 
for by the low buildings and narrow streets. It is almost 
a pity that a picturesque survival of ancient days has lat- 
terly passed from the London fire department. Not many 
years ago it was customary for firemen, proceeding to the 
scene of outbreak, to herald their progress by shouting 



FIRE-FIGHTING IN THE UNITED KINGDOM 235 

"Hi Hi Hi!" Some five years ago this was discontinued, 
and a brass bell substituted. 

Some reference may here be made to the floating fire 
equipment of the London brigade. This has been developed 
under peculiarly restricted conditions, since the Thames 
is a tidal river with only five feet of water in places at 
low tide. Moreover, most of the traffic is carried on in 
heavily laden barges, with low free-boards, handicapping 
fire boats as regards their speed, owing to the liability of 
their wash swamping the former. Finally, these "fire 
floats" are limited as to their length and breadth, since it 
is necessary so to arrange their dimensions that they may 
easily enter the connecting locks of docks and canals, while 
their height above the water line must also permit them to 
pass under low bridges. Considering the enormous dock 
area of the Port of London, the greatest credit is due to 
the officers and men for the ability and technical skill which 
they display in defending the vast responsibility committed 
to their charge, which, owing to the conditions already 
stated, rendered the problem one of the most difficult of 
solution in the world. The first vessel to be built was the 
"Alpha," a twin screw boat, eighty feet in length, with a 
beam of sixteen feet and a draught of three, on a displace- 
ment of sixty-three tons, and having a speed of ten knots. 
It was fitted with pumps capable, of discharging 1,250 
English gallons a minute. This was succeeded by another 
handy little vessel, the "Beta," equipped with four pumps, 
each with a discharging capacity of 1,000 English gallons 
a minute at 140 pounds pump pressure. These have been 
followed by the introduction of motor fire floats, pro- 
pelled by internal combustion gasoline engines. The latest 
addition embodies several new principles. With a length of 
one hundred feet and a beam of nineteen, the draught of 
water is only two feet. She is propelled by triple screws 
driven by sixty horse power engines, and the collective de- 
livery of her pumps is about 1,500 English gallons a minute. 
The screws work in tunnels, and her design is such that 
when proceeding at full speed, about eleven knots, the bow 



236 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

wave is absorbed under the bottom of the vessel and little 
or no wash is apparent. 

With the object of ensuring that the fire brigade shall be 
readily and easily summoned when a fire occurs, great at- 
tention is being paid to increasing the facilities by which 
it may be called, and in making them known to the public. 
Connected with every engine house are fire alarms situated 
in the chief thoroughfares, the number varying with the 
fire risks of the area. These alarms are equipped and 
supervised by the Post Office, an annual rent being paid for 
their use, as also in the case of the station telephones. In 
1911, the number of these alarm boxes totalled 1,545, and 
the Council of the fire department have a scheme for their 
augmentation on a large scale at present under considera- 
tion. It is worthy of note that a number of posts in the 
East end of the city have recently been fitted with tablets 
bearing instructions for their use in Yiddish. All street 
alarms are adapted for the transmission of telephone mes- 
sages by firemen, suitable instruments being carried on all 
brigade appliances for this purpose. The principal police 
stations are in telephonic communication with the fire sta- 
tions, and this also exists between the latter and the ma- 
jority of public and other large buildings, such as theatres 
and so forth. During 1911 the total number of calls 
amounted to 6,868, working out at a daily average of 
nineteen, through on the I4th of August, during a great 
heat wave, there were fifty-three. In England it is a crim- 
inal offense to send in a malicious false alarm, and a person 
so doing is liable to a penalty not exceeding 25 ($125) or 
imprisonment for three months with hard labour. From 
the latest report it appears that the total of malicious false 
alarms has increased considerably, amounting now to 357, 
which constitutes a record. This increase can only be 
explained by the unwelcome attention of the suffragettes 
with militant tendencies. It is outside the scope of this 
work to enter upon a dissertation concerning the rights and 
wrongs of the movement, but as far as fire duty is concerned 
there can be only one opinion. Every false alarm draws 



FIRE-FIGHTING IN THE UNITED KINGDOM 237 

men and apparatus away from a certain area, which is 
thus left so much the less prepared to meet an attack 
by fire, while it stands to reason that constantly responding 
to these calls unnecessarily fatigues men and horses and 
renders them less fit for duty. Hence, the action of these 
women constitutes a menace to the community and is one 
of selfish egotism deserving not alone the condemnation 
of every right-minded citizen, but the infliction of such 
punishment as shall render similar behaviour in the future, 
even on the part of half-crazed fanatics, unlikely to occur. 
There is a considerable fluctuation in the number of fires 
reported annually in London. Thus, in 1907, the total 
of 3,320 was a decrease of 523 on the preceding year and 
represented a financial loss of 493,389. 1908 and 1909 
saw the decrease continue, the latter year having 123 fires 
less than 1907, though the financial loss shot up to 699,329. 
It remained, however, for 1911 to beat all previous records, 
the number of fires amounting to 4,403, an increase of 
1,195, monetary loss being 789,003, or nearly four mil- 
lion dollars. The extended use of motor vehicles has an 
important bearing both on the outbreaks registered and on 
the amount of the fire loss, since fires in garages are common 
and the values involved considerable. Chimney fires are 
not included in these statistics, though their number aver- 
ages about 800 per annum. In this connection it may be 
remarked that, by a special Act of 1900, the occupant of any 
house the chimney of which catches fire, must pay towards 
the cost of the London fire brigade, a fine fixed upon the 
rateable value of the premises ranging from 2/6 (.60), 
up to a maximum of i ($5). 

The training of the men belonging to the brigade is suffi- 
cient for the demands made upon them, particular attention 
being given to motor engineering, instruction in first aid, 
and gymnastics. The following excerpt, however, taken 
from the last official report issued, throws a curious light 
upon the somewhat haphazard methods employed in the 
physical training of the men: "Early in 1911 the fitting 
up at the Manchester Square fire station of a gymnasium 



238 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

with apparatus for carrying out Swedish drill was completed 
and an additional fireman was added to the strength of the 
Brigade to act as physical drill instructor. So much inter- 
est was evinced in the matter by the staff, that gymnastic 
apparatus has been provided at other stations and a number 
of well attended classes has been held. There is no doubt 
that the staff have felt the lack of opportunities for physical 
training, especially in view of the number of hook ladders 
carried on fire appliances and the extended use of such 
ladders." 

It seems needless to emphasize the importance of con- 
stant physical training of firemen, as, quite irrespective of 
a man's muscular development, he quickly becomes stiff and 
slow of movement unless either constantly drilled or at least 
given the opportunity of obtaining gymnastic exercise. As 
regards loss of life, during the last year for which par- 
ticulars are available, 151 deaths are recorded, of which no 
fewer than sixty-two were those of children under the age 
of twelve. The causes of the fires at which this loss 
occurred include twelve cases of children playing with fire, 
eleven from their playing with matches, while thirty-two 
were attributable to clothing coming into contact with fire 
or gas stoves. This infantile mortality of approximately 
forty per cent, of the total death roll, though in itself in- 
significant when compared with an estimated population 
of over four and one-half millions, certainly points to the 
fact that some sort of instruction anent the dangers of 
fire could usefully be included in the curriculum of Board 
Schools, as is done in Germany. 

By the Metropolis Water Act of 1871, it was provided 
that the water companies should supply, where necessary, 
water for fire-fighting free of charge, while they should 
also install such plugs or hydrants as might be required 
at the expense of the department. At present the total 
number of hydrants in the Metropolitan area is about 
29,000. Before 1897 all hydrants in the County of London, 
outside the City proper, were made with one outlet. In that 
year it was suggested that new hydrants should be provided 



FIRE-FIGHTING IN THE UNITED KINGDOM 239 

with two outlets when erected in localities where the fire 
risks were considerable. The disadvantage of the double 
outlet hydrants used in the City itself, numbering over eight 
hundred and provided by the City Corporation at its own 
cost, was, that in the event of it being necessary to connect 
a second length of hose to the hydrant when the first was 
already in use, the control valve had to be temporarily 
closed. Apart from delay, which might be fatal, the fireman 
operating the branch in action was often disconcerted by 
the stoppage of his water supply and might conceivably 
find himself in danger owing to this cause. To obviate this 
the Fire Committee of the London County Council decided 
that the experiment should be tried of placing two hydrants 
in one pit, each being fitted with a control valve. This 
scheme proved satisfactory, though, on account of the ex- 
pense involved, its introduction has not been general. In 
January, 1901, however, it was determined that the branch 
pipes connecting hydrants to mains should in every case 
be of five inches diameter, i. e., sufficient to supply double 
hydrants should they be universally installed. Hydrants 
fixed in public thoroughfares are tested by firemen every 
two months, and are also examined and tested by inspectors 
under the supervision of the Chief Officer, and as a result 
of deficiency in water supply on some occasions many fresh 
connections have been made, and the water companies in- 
volved have themselves contributed towards the expense of 
laying new mains or pipes for fire purposes. The quantity 
of water used during 1911, amounted to thirty-three mil- 
lion odd gallons, or not three times as much as was used 
in one fire in New York the Equitable. Two- thirds of 
this quantity was drawn direct from street mains, the other 
third being supplied by the river Thames and canals. The 
double pattern hydrants deliver on an average 800 English 
gallons a minute which does not seem excessive when 
compared with the 4,000 gallons obtainable from the "high 
pressure" hydrants in America. 

The inspection of public buildings is undertaken by the 
Brigade free of charge, though in certain cases grants 



240 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

in aid are forthcoming to provide for the special staff 
necessary for the operation. In theatres, in which public 
performances are regularly given, there is an official in- 
spection every ten days to ensure that the rules of the 
Municipality for securing the safety of the public are 
enforced. This applies, in a modified form, to cinemato- 
graph halls, temporary exhibitions and bazaars, and the 
plans of all new buildings requiring licenses, and of pro- 
posed alterations to existing buildings, are referred to the 
Chief Officer for examination and report. 

Lodging houses designed to accommodate more than 
eighty persons are likewise under the control of the fire 
department, as regards means of escape, etc., and though 
in the first instance this is the business of the architect who 
must conform to the building rules of the London County 
Council, the responsibility for their efficient maintenance 
rests with the fire chief. In all, about 22,000 inspections 
are made annually. Latterly, the underground electric 
railways, which honeycomb London, have also passed under 
the supervision of the Chief Officer whose advice has been 
followed regarding the fire safety of these means of trans- 
portation. It is estimated that the cost of this inspection 
branch amounts to approximately 4,000 ($20,000) per 
annum. No less than two hundred and sixty-five officers 
and men were injured in the execution of their duty during 
the year 1911, or one-fifth of the whole fire fighting 
strength. This is a high percentage and bespeaks devotion 
to service which is in every way commendable, and it must 
be remembered that it is not always the greatest fire which 
offers most risk to life and limb. Thus it will be seen that 
London is efficiently guarded in its fire hazard and though, 
perhaps some of the methods employed may appear an- 
tiquated and not in accordance with the latest improvements 
in fire control, yet after all "the proof of the pudding is 
in the eating," and for a city of its population the fire loss 
is small. Whether or no the department could successfully 
cope with a great sweeping conflagration in the ware- 
house district is a moot question, which most assuredly the 



FIRE-FIGHTING IN THE UNITED KINGDOM 241 

writer trusts will never arise for solution. But there seems 
no doubt that the chances of a serious disaster from fire 
in the residential district are practically non-existent, while 
the building regulations in force are of so stringent a char- 
acter, that except in the case of panic, against which no one 
can guard, fire risks in theatres are reduced to a minimum. 
In this connection a word of praise must be a<ided for the 
British Fire Prevention Committee, a voluntary organiza- 
tion which has devoted time, energy and money towards the 
solution of all problems affecting fire control, and which, 
in the most public-spirited manner, has given the results 
arrived at "gratis" to the world at large. 

In considering the fire departments of the important 
Boroughs in the United Kingdom, one outstanding feature 
is little short of amazing. This is the small number of the 
personnel, as compared with the population and the pe- 
cuniary values they are called upon to protect. Of course, 
the fire risks are appreciably smaller in residential dis- 
tricts than they would be in America, since houses are 
commonly constructed of stone, are of limited height, and 
generally do not offer themselves an easy prey to the flames. 
But far otherwise must it be in the congested warehouse 
section, and it is really marvelous that disastrous fires 
are not of more frequent occurrence. It will be of interest 
to describe seriatim the brigades of four great provincial 
cities, Belfast, Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester. 

Belfast, the commercial capital of Ireland, is a city of 
385,000 inhabitants. During the year 1911, the number 
of fires amounted to 228, with an estimated fire risk of 
nearly one million pounds sterling, the actual loss amounting 
to fifty two thousand odd pounds (two hundred and sixty 
thousand odd dollars). Yet the strength of the Brigade 
consists only of seventy-five firemen, including the superin- 
tendent, assistant superintendent and third officer. The 
plant includes sixteen fire engines, three petrol driven es- 
capes, one eighty- foot extension ladder and various other 
smaller apparatus, all of which seem to be absolutely up to 
date. Though it may be remarked that salvage work is 



243 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

accomplished by a petrol salvage motor trap, yet in addi- 
tion, there are two horse and one motor ambulances, which 
responded to over three thousand calls in that year, cover- 
ing a distance of 10,194 miles and occupying thirty-two 
minutes per journey, i. e., from the receipt of the call until 
their return to the station. These ambulances are used 
for ordinary accidents. The steam fire engines were only 
used once, and the motor fire pump only twice during the 
entire year. Machines traveling to and from fires aver- 
aged eight miles for each "turn-out," and were engaged for 
1 33^2 hours, or an average of thirty-five minutes for each 
fire, this calculation including the journey to and from the 
outbreak. These are remarkable figures, and since, within 
the last ten years, there has been practically no increase 
in the number of fires, Belfast can congratulate itself 
upon having one of the most economical and effective sys- 
tems of fire control, salvage work and ambulance equipment 
probably in the entire world. Birmingham, according to the 
last census, is a city with a population of 840,200, covering 
an area of 43,500 acres. The fire department consists of 
a Chief Officer, two senior subordinates and 194 rank and 
file, which represents roughly one fireman to every 221 
acres or to 4,200 persons. One thousand and forty-eight 
alarms were received during 1912, of which one hundred 
and eight related to chimneys on fire, one hundred and 
twenty-six were false and six were "malicious." 
The estimated value of the property at risk was 
over three and a half million pounds, the actual 
loss approximating 81,000 ($405,000). On an av- 
erage, these alarms occupied only thirty-seven min- 
utes each, while on twenty-eight days no calls were re- 
ceived, on sixty-seven days only one, on seventy-five days 
two, on twenty-four days six, on two days eight, and on 
one day eleven, these with some forty stations and nine 
thousand hydrants. The police department house some of 
the apparatus in their quarters. Amongst the most im- 
portant appliances may be noticed six motor turbine pumps 
and escapes, twelve steam fire engines, one water tower 



FIRE-FIGHTING IN THE UNITED KINGDOM 243 

a unique feature in English fire practice three chemical 
engines and twenty-one extension ladders. Like Belfast, 
there is also an ambulance corps, manning no less than 
eleven ambulances, while amongst minor apparatus may 
be noticed nine smoke helmets of the latest oxygen battery 
type. It is worthy of note that every man in the Brigade 
possesses a first-aid certificate for ambulance work. The 
Chief Officer of the department receives 400 ($2,000) 
per annum, while ordinary firemen are paid from 24/- ($6) 
to 3 1/- ($7.75) per week. All ranks receive free quarters, 
light and uniform, eight pence per week boot allowance 
and six pence (twelve cents) washing. Annual leave is 
granted to the extent of eight days for a fireman, with an 
addition of sixty hours a month taken in two periods of 
twenty-four hours and two of six. All places of amuse- 
ment are inspected by the department, while public and 
other buildings under the direct supervision of the Brigade, 
as regards fire risk, pay a small annual charge, the proceeds 
of which are devoted to the recreation and superannuation 
funds. This again constitutes a remarkable record for 
a small, though excellently equipped department. 

Glasgow, which since the commencement of 1912, in- 
cludes Govan and Partick, has a Brigade the authorized 
strength of which is 195 and is at present fifteen short of 
this number. During 1912, engines and firemen operated 
at 526 fires, while in no cases the outbreaks were so 
trifling that they were suppressed with hand pumps. The 
estimated loss amounted to 150,000 ($750,000). It is 
noteworthy that fires reported as due to defective building 
construction amounted to 202, or over thirty-one per cent. 
There are eleven stations, housing one motor extension lad- 
der, sixteen motor pumps, eight steam fire engines, and two 
motor first-aid traps. In the entire department there are 
only two horses, which is a sufficient indication that with 
true Scottish acumen motor propelled vehicles have been 
found cheaper and more effective. Sic transit gloria equi. 
Four first-aid motor machines are in course of construction, 
each being designed to carry one officer, twelve men, two 



244 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

thousand yards of hose, one thirty-foot extension ladder, 
an ambulance box, tools, and other necessary gear. When 
fully laden, these motors will weigh about fifty- five hundred 
pounds, with a length of nineteen feet on an eleven- foot 
wheelbase. The number of malicious alarms was peculiar- 
ly high, amounting to no less than fifty-nine, with only 
six convictions for the same. Attendance at fires under 
certain conditions must be paid for, and the income from 
this source amounted to nearly 4,000 ($20,000), while 
listed amongst "special services rendered" are the two 
following interesting items ; "entering houses for locked-out 
tenants," 120 occasions, and "searching the roof of a build- 
ing for thieves," once. Without wishing in the least to be 
ribald, the writer cannot help wondering why the duty of 
assisting burgesses of Glasgow, who had either forgotten 
their latch-keys or, perhaps such things do happen had 
been locked out on purpose, should have been delegated to 
members of the fire brigade ! ! The worst outbreak of the 
year was that caused through the ignition of a cinemato- 
graph film, while in process of manufacture. The fire was 
under control within half an hour, but not before damage 
to the extent of 5,000 ($25,000) had been done. This 
led to an inquiry into the whole subject and it was found 
that in one establishment the basement of which was 
heavily stocked with this inflammable material, the upper 
stories immediately above were utilized as an hotel. It is 
hardly necessary to dilate upon what would have occurred 
to the guests had the fire broken out. This incident is men- 
tioned since, no matter how well a building may be con- 
structed, danger of this sort cannot be invited with im- 
punity, especially when the personal safety and property 
of 785,000 people rest upon 180 firemen. 

The report of the Manchester Fire Brigade is again re- 
markable for its brevity and for the fact that the author- 
ized strength of the force is only 130, including officers, 
for a city of 715,000 inhabitants. All the world knows that 
within this area are to be found some of the greatest cotton 
spinning factories extant, and to the outsider it certainly 



FIRE-FIGHTING IN THE UNITED KINGDOM 245 

would appear as though the fire-fighting force could not 
be adequate for possible demands. For instance, suppos- 
ing there were three outbreaks of even moderate size in 
different parts of the city at the same time, a perfectly 
normal contingency to contemplate, how could they be suc- 
cessfully attacked? The 524 fires of the year 1912, repre- 
sented a property value of over three million pounds (fif- 
teen million dollars), though the loss was only 102,000 
($510,000). The firemen were actively engaged during 
the entire year for 320 hours, 35 minutes, this including 
false alarms, or under an hour a day; while the fireboat 
responded to seven calls, and was actively engaged on only 
three occasions. Now, it may be argued that the four 
men forming the crew of the fireboat, or the 112 men rated 
as "firemen" in the Brigade, earn their pay with an absence 
of worry or anxiety which might be envied by the layman; 
in fact, doubtless the rate-payer reads the report in question 
and contemplates the pay-roll dubiously, revolving the while 
in his mind whether the total expenditure is justified, or 
whether, after all, it is not a piece of gross municipal 
extravagance. The answer is no difficult one to give. 
When a man insures his life he pays a premium for certain 
benefits of which, perhaps, he may never taste, but on 
that account he does not cease his payments. Similarly, 
with all outlay for all contingencies, there is no direct and 
immediate return that can be touched, handled and as- 
sessed at so much material value. But none the less the 
value is existent though not perhaps to the extent demanded 
by a captious rate-payer. It is, in short, a payment for 
municipal fire insurance, and though day after day 
and month after month the protected area may 
jog along with no serious outbreak to trouble the 
even tenor of its way, the time may come when 
every man and every piece of apparatus will be 
engaged in a life and death struggle for mastery. 
And it is precisely against that event that the municipality, 
which is far sighted, guards. Hence it is that with the 
greatest of deference to those concerned it does strike the 



246 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

writer with something akin to amazement that such colossal 
values should be so lightly guarded as they apparently are 
in English provincial towns. For, given the best of ap- 
pliances and most skilled firemen, what could 130 men ac- 
complish against anything in the nature of a sweeping con- 
flagration? And supposing other fires occurred at the same 
time, it would be a physical impossibility adequately to pro- 
tect against the one or attack and quell the other. 

As an example, it is not necessary to travel beyond the 
British Isles. In August, 1911, there occurred a serious 
fire in the Carlton Hotel, London, a building of moderate 
size and certainly of no greater magnitude than some of 
the hotels to be found in the towns, mention of which has 
been made. This outbreak necessitated the employment 
of twenty-three steam and motor fire-engines and the at- 
tendance of two hundred and two officers and men before 
it could be brought under control. Had this occurred in 
Manchester, well it is needless further to comment!!! 

This is penned in no carping spirit and with the knowl- 
edge that man for man English fire departments are the 
equal of any in the world, but they cannot accomplish mir- 
acles, and rather are the municipalities to blame who, secure 
in the traditions of the past and unmindful of the chances 
of the future, are so penny wise and pound foolish that they 
are ready to risk millions of pounds worth of property in 
order to escape an infinitesimal addition to their rates. 
Place the whole question on a business basis, work out the 
value of the fire insurance premiums paid on the property 
within the municipal area and compare the total arrived at 
with the total expenditure per annum on the fire depart- 
ments under discussion and the result will perhaps surprise 
owners and insurance companies alike. Of course, it may be 
argued, that it belongs to the business of the latter to assess 
their own risks and avoid the acceptance of policies in badly 
protected areas. But that is outside the main discussion, 
which is concerned with the ethics of fire fighting. And 
most assuredly he would be a bold man who would prophesy 
that fire would never conquer under such conditions. 



CHAPTER XVII 

THE NEW YORK FIRE DEPARTMENT 

AN experience of a quarter of a century as an active 
fire-fighter has left one indelible impression upon the brain 
of the writer. It has been his good fortune to meet pro- 
fessional colleagues hailing from every known part of the 
globe, while, equally, he has had abundant opportunity to 
inspect the fire departments of the great American cities 
as well as those maintained by European municipalities. 
And one point in common he has found them all to possess ; 
namely, that they are firmly convinced that they belong 
to and represent the latest, the greatest and the most up-to- 
date fire department in the world. Which is to be ex- 
pected; if a mother be not proud of her offspring, who 
should be? 

And that very enthusiasm itself speaks well of the calling 
as a whole, and is a sufficient proof that its votaries bring 
to bear upon their occupation all that interest which is 
necessary to make of a chosen life work, a success. Hence 
there is really no need to haggle over the respective merits 
or otherwise of different fire departments; the main point 
is, that they are, one and all, imbued with the same fight- 
ing spirit, and, one and all, are allied against the same 
common enemy. But in the following pages will be found 
some description of the New York Fire Department, and 
the writer is quite content to leave to the verdict of others, 
a decision as to whether or no the city is well protected 
against the fire fiend. Since, however, his is the honor of 
being its present Chief, he must be forgiven for stating at 
once that it is, as regards personnel and apparatus, un- 

247 



248 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

questionably the largest in the world. And well it may 
be, for it is called upon to guard property values beyond 
conception, which from certain local peculiarities are, in a 
measure, heaped together in a limited area, and which offer 
to the fire-fighter problems, the solution of which are 
literally staggering in their immensity. 

It is well nigh impossible to describe with pen and paper 
for the benefit of those who have not seen it, exactly what 
"New York" means. Most cities of renown convey cer- 
tain vague impressions to those who have never visited 
them, and only know of them by repute or from what they 
have read. Thus "Rome" conjures visions of a bygone era 
of imperial greatness, manifested in wondrous churches, 
palaces and remains of historic interest. "Paris," speaks 
of a gay life, restaurants, pretty women, a continual effer- 
vescence of amusement with the serious side of life care- 
fully hidden away in the background. "St. Petersburg" 
visualizes mentally, snow-capped domes surmounting fan- 
tastically constructed cathedrals, nihilists, an eternal car- 
nival of disorder and, in the foreground, thousands upon 
thousands of gray-coated soldiery. As for London with- 
out any intention of hurting the feelings of the British 
fog, royal display and pomp, old and venerated buildings, 
art collections, military music and suffragettes. 

Now, each and all of these figments of the imagination 
possess that grain of truth, which goes to show that 
years of descriptive writing have at least brought home 
to the public mind some regularly formed impression anent 
the places mentioned. Now, far otherwise is it with New 
York. As the foreigner, who has never been to America, 
what are his impressions of this great city? He would prob- 
ably promptly reply, "giant buildings," and then pause. 
Perhaps, after a moment's consideration he might add with 
a half apologetic air, "and a very expensive place." Fur- 
ther than that he could not go, although viewed in certain 
aspects New York has the most strongly marked individu- 
ality of any city on the face of the globe. In the first place, 
it is as though some giant contractor had constructed a play- 



THE NEW YORK FIRE DEPARTMENT 249 

thing for the gods, and had thrown vast piles of stone, 
mountains of brick, forests of wood and lakes of mortar on 
to the surface of one small island and had then fashioned 
therefrom buildings. There is no coordination, no attempt 
at architectural regularity; the wand of the magician waves 
and instanter a giant structure rises from nowhere, and in 
an inappreciable space of time a new skyscraper is silhouet- 
ted against the horizon. The sky-line alone is worth a trip 
across the ocean, so replete is it with fantastic wizardry 
and comparable only to the Organ Mountains as they loom 
out of the morning mist in the harbor of Rio de Janeiro. 

But these aspects are rather for the brush of the artist; 
there is the other and practical aspect, which in its way 
is as enthralling. The population of New York is roughly 
five millions, and every day in the year one half of that 
number are on the move. They pour into a circumscribed 
area like water into a bottle, and as the number increases 
so, like the aforesaid water, they mount higher and higher 
as though they would overflow into the regions of the 
upper air. The office buildings lead the way in the race 
for height, and story by story climb five, six, seven and 
almost eight hundred feet in a search after floor space. 

There are about one hundred and forty thousand separ- 
ate manufacturing concerns in the city area and many of 
these are housed in buildings, sixteen and eighteen at a 
time, a perfect miscellany of diverse trades dealing in 
every conceivable article, inflammable, combustible or burn- 
able. Hotels there are by the thousands, theatres literally 
by the hundreds, 900 moving picture shows, some 500 miles 
of docking and wharfage and innumerable ships and car- 
goes, the value of which it is impossible to assess, and, in 
any case, after a certain point the mind refuses to com- 
prehend the meaning of recurring cyphers. But billions 
of dollars, millions of pounds sterling, may approximate to 
the fire risks which have to be covered by the New York 
Fire Department. Multiply this enormous aggregate of 
values by extreme climatic conditions which in themselves 
invite the attention of the flames, and the magnitude of 



250 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

the task is enhanced. Then again multiply the result ar- 
rived at by the fact that business with a capital B is the 
magnet which draws people to this centre; the hunt after 
that elusive dollar which absorbs all the nerve power, the 
intellect and the interest of the average individual, leaving 
him no time for the consideration of the casual outside 
occurrences of daily life, and tending to make of him a 
machine rather than a man. That is where the careless- 
ness of the unit may be expected to evidence itself, and 
that, in itself, is one of the most comprehensive of fire 
risks imaginable. Thus, it will be seen that the fire guard- 
ians of New York have enough to do in their daily battle 
against the fire fiend, and that personnel and equipment 
must both be of the best obtainable if the enemy is to be 
held effectually in check. 

Firstly, as regards personnel, the force is recruited from 
the State of New York, and, since apparatus without 
skilled men to operate it is useless, the place of honour will 
be given to the means employed to attract the best material 
and how the service may be entered. The following form 
the basic qualifications: "No person shall be appointed 
to membership in the fire department or continue to hold 
membership therein, who is not a citizen of the United 
States or who has ever been convicted of felony; nor shall 
any person be appointed who cannot read and write un- 
derstandingly the English language or who shall not have 
resided in the State one year immediately prior to his 
appointment, or who is not over the age of twenty-one 
and at the date of the filing of his application for civil 
service examination was under the age of twenty-nine 
years. Every member of the uniformed force shall reside 
within the limits of the city of New York. Preliminary 
to a permanent appointment as fireman, there shall be a 
period of probation for such time as is fixed by. the civil 
service rules and no person shall receive a permanent ap- 
pointment who has not served the required probationary 
period, but the service during probation shall be deemed 
to be service in the uniformed force if succeeded by a 



THE NEW YORK FIRE DEPARTMENT 251 

permanent appointment and as such shall be included and 
counted in determining eligibility for advancement, promo- 
tion, retirement and pension as hereinafter provided." This 
is sufficiently exhaustive as showing the first main essen- 
tials to be covered by the applicant for fire service. 

In addition to the foregoing, however, candidates must 
take a civil service examination, the physical and mental 
tests of which are as follows : As might be expected in such 
a calling as the fireman's, the physical test is in itself severe 
and searching. It may be said to be divided into two 
parts, the medical and the muscular development examina- 
tions. These are widely divergent, as the following shows. 

For the former the candidate faces the doctors nude; 
prior to his entry into the examination room having taken 
his oath that he is whom he states he is, and that he has 
answered all questions which have been put to him truth- 
fully. The applicant is then carefully examined for such 
defects as varicocele, hydrocele or any other kindred blem- 
ishes while, needless to say, any signs of venereal disease 
are met with peremptory rejection. Should he have any 
obstruction to free breathing, chronic catarrh or even of- 
fensive breath he may fail to pass. The teeth must be 
clean, well cared for, and at least twenty natural teeth must 
be present. In addition, any affections of the joints, sprains 
or stiffness of the arms or legs, hands or feet, ingrowing 
nails or hammer toes are especially looked for and promptly 
bar the applicant, since they would effectually prevent him 
from performing his duties in the manner demanded. 

It seems scarcely necessary to add that rupture also 
receives particular attention, and any signs of incompletely 
healed laparotomy are noted against the applicant. Fin- 
ally, the body must be well developed and nourished, and 
show careful attention to personal cleanliness. 

Following this, the candidate next visits the first physical 
examiner, who tries his sight and takes his chest and 
other measurements. The minimum weight required is 
140 Ibs. on a height of 5 ft. 8 in. Then comes a stringent 
examination of the heart and incidentally, it is surprising, 



252 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

considering the age and physique of the applicants, how 
many have murmurs or some heart symptom, which in 
themselves probably not serious for most careers, are quite 
sufficient to prevent entry into the ranks of the Fire De- 
partment. This concludes what may be called the purely 
medical aspect of the case, with the addition of certain 
questions regarding past medical history, framed on a 
plan not unlike that drawn up by insurance companies. 

The hour for the active physical test has now arrived. 
That it is severe may be gathered from the following par- 
ticulars. Firstly, the strength of the upper arms is tested 
by the pull-up, or "chinning," as it is called. The candi- 
date is required to hang in a suspended position from the 
rung of a horizontal ladder by his hands, and pull himself 
up till his chin is above the rung. A limit of fourteen 
times has been placed upon this operation, which would 
give a sufficient gruelling to most professed athletes. Next 
comes the "dip," or supporting the body by arms on hori- 
zontal bars and then lowering till the chin is level with 
the hands. This must not be accomplished more than six 
times. 

A dynamometer is used to test the strength of the fore- 
arm, pectoral muscles, joints of the knees, back and legs. 
Considerable importance is attached to these readings. A 
sixty pound dumb-bell must also be lifted to the shoulder 
and thence above the shoulder with each hand in turn. 
Finally, the agility of the candidate is tested in a variety 
of ways, jumping being that most usually employed. 

Now, it might be imagined that the only result of this 
extreme physical trial would be the elimination of all 
except giants and abnormalities, which, most assuredly, 
are not wanted. What is required is all round physical 
excellence, and to this end marks are given according to 
the stamina shown by the individual in the different tests 
and his familiarity with the same. But the outstanding 
point to be made is that, obviously apart from being in 
sound health, it is not by any means the strongest man 
who always makes the best rating. The youth who has 



THE NEW YORK FIRE DEPARTMENT 253 

been gymnastically inclined will be familiar, of course, 
with such exercises as "chinning" and "dipping," and in 
that way will score; but it also shows that he has been in 
the habit of taking the best form of exercise and this in 
itself promises a deal. Mens sana in cor pore sano might 
not inaptly be applied to the department, since the science 
of fire-fighting is a profession demanding brains as well 
as brawn. 

As has already been stated, the mental examination is 
reasonable considering the training which is to follow, and 
consists of a thorough knowledge of the three R's read- 
ing, writing and simple arithmetic. These examinations 
are, however, competitive and are rated on a basis of 50 
to 50, i. e., half for physical and half for mental. It has 
been the practice, during the last few years, to appoint 
from these candidates in numerical order, although the 
Fire Commissioner has some discretionary powers under 
the law and may reject a certain percentage of the names 
certified for appointment. Unless a candidate has devel- 
oped some serious defect between the promulgation of the 
list and the date of appointment, the plan of accepting men 
in numerical order is followed. 

In order to detect whether such defect exists, the appli- 
cant is thoroughly examined by the medical officer of the 
Fire Department at the time he is about to be appointed. 
Should he pass all tests, he is appointed on probation for 
a period of three months and is immediately assigned to a 
company. 

It is thought best to assign probationers to active duty 
at once, and in the heaviest and hardest districts of the 
city. A two years' service is required in these districts 
before a fireman is permitted to transfer to a lighter one. 
He is required to attend daily between certain hours at 
the college training school for probationers, there to under- 
go a thorough course of instruction in the use of scaling 
and other ladders on a building more than 100 feet in 
height. He is taught the use of every tool in the eight 
branches of the service hook and ladder and engine com- 





254 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

panics, water towers, hose and chemical wagons, fire boats 
and so forth. Besides this he is instructed in the use and 
making of approved knots, such as the bowling knot, rolling 
hitch, the half hitch and others. Also he is instructed in 
the use of life saving apparatus and jumping nets. In addi- 
tion he must learn and become proficient in sending and 
receiving all fire alarm signals. 

In some countries it is thought best to instruct the men 
before sending them to companies for regular duty, and 
even officers as already stated in this volume attend fires 
as spectators. To the writer, this system does not appear 
to possess any advantage. In fact, practical experience 
has proved that it is better to throw the men at once into 
the thick of the fight. If they have any tendency to show 
the white feather this method speedily brings it out, but 
to the credit of the New York firemen, be it said, that in 
more than twenty years, during which time over five thou- 
sand men have been subjected to this ordeal, not more 
than ten have jibbed. 

The reason why so few are found deficient in these tests 
is simple. They are aware of the conditions beforehand 
and this fact eliminates the cowardly and the timid. Once 
appointed to membership in the uniformed force, a young 
man can reach the highest position in the department, al- 
ways, however, subject to competitive examinations. In 
these examinations record and seniority count fifty per 
cent., and mental qualifications the same. As regards the 
former rank takes precedence of service. A mark of 80 
per cent, is given for the first six months in a grade, and 
one half of one per cent, for each six months thereafter 
up to eight years, when a full mark is given. This brings 
the rating to 96 per cent., the additional 4 points being re- 
served for merit marks (class A or i), and a medal re- 
ceiving three points (class B or 2), equalling 2 points, and 
class C or 3, equalling i point). These points are subject 
to change by the municipal civil service with the consent 
of the Mayor and State Civil Service Board. 

The total strength of the uniformed force of the De- 



THE NEW YORK FIRE DEPARTMENT 255 

partmerat amounts to 4,995 men of all ranks, including, 
besides the Chief, 15 Deputy and 47 Battalion Chiefs, n 
medical officers, 298 captains, 413 lieutenants, 20 pilots, 
496 engineers, 6 marine engineers, and 3,687 firemen of all 
grades. There are, in addition, i Chief of Construction 
and Repairs, 2 Roman Catholic and 2 Episcopalian Chap- 
lains. 

Upon being appointed to 4th grade firemen from proba- 
tioners, men receive $1,000 per annum, being a year later 
advanced by law to the 3rd grade, with the same salary, 
and thereafter, by law to the 2nd grade, with $1,200 a 
year, and thence to the 1st grade, then receiving a salary 
of $1,400 a year. Thenceforth the progress of the in- 
dividual is strictly dependent upon his success in competi- 
tive examinations. Thus, by taking practical tests, he may 
qualify as an engineer, with a salary of $1,600 a year. 

A fire engine is taken to the water front and placed at 
the dock drafting water. Candidates are required to 
operate the engine in the presence of engineers represent- 
ing the Civil Service, and are rated up to 50 per cent., 
according to the ability shown. A mark of 70 is required 
to pass this test. The mental test which follows is a writ- 
ten examination counting 50 per cent., a passing mark of 
70 per cent, being required. When both tests are combined 
the candidate must have at least 80 per cent, to entitle him 
to be on the eligible list. 

Or, again, he may follow the main stream of promotion, 
becoming first a lieutenant, with $2,100 a year, and after 
six months may rise to be a captain, with a salary of 
$2,500 a year. With six months' service to his credit in 
this grade, he is eligible as Chief of Battalion, in which 
position he takes charge of six or seven companies, and 
receives a salary of $3,300 per annum. Ranking with the 
latter are Doctors, Chaplains and the Chief of Construc- 
tion and Repairs. Incidentally, it may be of interest to 
note that the Chaplains are provided with a departmental 
horse and buggy, for the purpose of attending fires, at 
which their services on occasion are greatly appreciated. 



256 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

The next step of promotion is to that of Deputy Chief 
of Department, with whom rank the two veterinary officers 
and the Chief Medical officer. The Deputy Chief of De- 
partment in charge of the Boroughs of Brooklyn and 
Queens, owing to his greater responsibilities, receives a 
salary of $7,500, the Chief receiving $10,000. 

Since the vacancies in each rank are limited, a list of 
candidates eligible for promotion is drawn up and remains 
in force from one to four years, when the list is closed. 
This is to enable the younger men to have their chance and 
to prevent their promotion being blocked indefinitely. 

Without going too deeply into the subject of examina- 
tions, it may be not without interest to give two or three 
specimen questions taken from the examination papers for 
promotion to lieutenant, which will be sufficient evidence 
of the thoroughness and searching nature of the examina- 
tion, i. Assume that a fire has broken out on the I2th 
floor in the rear of a modern 20 story fireproof building, 
100 feet deep, elevators 30 feet from the front. The room 
where the fire started is 30 by 50 feet, and is filled with a 
number of old desks, rugs, partitions and other furni- 
ture of a highly inflammable nature. Intense heat has 
developed before the firemen reach the scene, and the 
fire has worked its way into adjoining offices on the same 
floor, (a) What are the special dangers to be apprehended 
from such a fire? (b) What special precautions would 
you take to avoid loss of life? 2. In answering the follow- 
ing, candidates will show the methods used in arriving at 
the answer given. There is a large fire in a building 100 
feet high from the curb to the cornice. The sidewalk is 
ten feet wide and the street from curb to curb is thirty 
feet wide. A pipe-holder is placed against curb on the 
opposite side from the fire. You are required to deliver an 
effective stream of water to the top floor. You are using 
300 feet of three-inch hose with a i^-inch nozzle. What 
is the approximate distance from the nozzle at the curb to 
the top story windows, allowing ten feet to a story, what 
pressure would you require on the nozzle, how many gal- 




COMBINATION CHEMICAL AND HOSE WAGON. 



THE NEW YORK FIRE DEPARTMENT 257 

Ions of water would the nozzle discharge per minute and 
what would be the required pressure on the engine or hy- 
drant to maintain this discharge? 3. What is the duty of 
the commanding officers upon arriving at fires where the 
buildings have automatic sprinkler equipments? (b) After 
the first line of hose has been stretched in at a fire by an 
engine company and a second line of hose is required, what 
do the rules demand commanding officers to do? 

It goes without saying that such technical knowledge 
cannot altogether be acquired by practice alone. There 
must be a sound theoretical training to amplify the latter, 
and to this end the Fire College was instituted in the year 
1911. It may not inaptly be compared with the Staff Col- 
lege of an army, since all those joining it must be officers 
who wish to qualify along certain highly specialized lines. 
But the simplest method whereby an idea may be gained 
of its scope is to quote from the words of its charter. 
"To disseminate knowledge of fire-fighting, to establish and 
maintain the highest professional standards and to afford to 
men starting in the profession of fire-fighting the experi- 
ence of men who have devoted their lives to the pro- 
fession. " 

Included in the courses are : General fire-fighting, use 
of apparatus and tools, engines and boilers, high pressure 
system, marine fires, care of horses and hose, high tension 
electric currents, combustibles and explosives, gasoline 
and motors, fire alarm telegraph, auxiliary fire appliances, 
first aid to the injured, discipline and administration. In- 
struction is given by a detail of officers, but special lec- 
tures are delivered by distinguished professors from New 
York colleges, while the President is always the Chief of 
the Department. 

As a company is the unit of action at a fire, and as col- 
lective work is of more value on these occasions even than 
in war, the Company School has been made a feature of 
the college work. From this it must not be gathered that 
the intelligence of the individual is not taken into account. 
Many times a man is thrown upon his own resources 



258 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

where he can neither see nor hear the signals of his super- 
iors and care is taken in his training that his individuality 
and initiative shall not be repressed. The school is attend- 
ed by companies, and complicated evolutions are per- 
formed. Each year a competitive drill is given, which is 
required to be accomplished within a specified time, and the 
men of the company most successful in time and form 
receive a college medal, while the Captain is given a spe- 
cial medal for the best drilled and most effective com- 
pany. 

Some idea of the evolutions in one of the recent tests 
can be gleaned from the following: There were twenty 
tests, which took place on and in a building 100 feet in 
height and of nine stories, (a) Stretch a three-inch line 
from high pressure hydrant. Connect to stand-pipe floor 
valve inside of the building; the outside connection is out 
of order. Winning time 41 seconds, (b) Raise and op- 
erate an aerial ladder. Winning time 50 seconds, (c) 
Hoist a line to the roof from the outside of the building. 
Make the line fast under the cornice and on the roof with 
approved knots. Winning time i minute 13 seconds. 
From these figures it can be gauged that the New York 
fireman is second to none in speed of operating appa- 
ratus. 

There is in addition a large civil department, which is 
responsible for such auxiliary bureaux as the Fire Alarm 
Telegraph Bureau, which totals 133 men, including 30 tele- 
graph operators, 14 battery men and 32 linesmen; the Fire 
Prevention Bureau which is charged with the making of 
inspections, the cleaning away of rubbish, etc., and in- 
cludes within its scope the division of the Fire Marshal, 
who is responsible for inquiring into the causes of fires 
and for procuring evidence in cases of arson. In addi- 
tion, there is a large Bureau of Repairs and Supplies, 
which totals no less than 251 employees, ranging from 
clerks and stenographers to painters and even a sail- 
maker. 

The administrative head of this vast organization is the 



THE NEW YORK FIRE DEPARTMENT 259 

Fire Commissioner, who is a nominee of, and appointed 
by, the mayor. In fact he may not inaptly be compared 
with the departmental secretaries of any national adminis- 
tration; that is to say, with a change of municipal gov- 
ernment, ipso facto, he vacates his position. 

Quarters are provided for all members of the uniformed 
force, at the stations to which they are attached, 4 hours 
daily being allowed for meals. In addition, every fire- 
man is entitled to 14 consecutive days' vacation leave in 
the year, together with 24 hours each fifth day, while 
company commanders have it in their power to grant extra 
leave of 12 hours 4 times each month should the exi- 
gencies of the service permit. 

The regulations regarding pensions are both compre- 
hensive and generous. Any officer or member of the uni- 
formed force who may, upon an examination by medical 
officers, be found to be disqualified, physically or mentally, 
from the performance of his duties, shall be retired from 
the service and shall receive an annual allowance as pen- 
sion in case of total disqualification or as compensation for 
limited service in case of partial disability. In case of 
total and permanent disability caused or induced by the 
actual performance of the duties of his position, or which 
may occur after ten years' active and continuous service, 
the amount of annual pension allowed shall be one-half of 
the yearly compensation given as salary at the date of his 
retirement from the service, or such less sum in propor- 
tion to the number so retired as the condition of the fund 
will warrant. This fund is formed of certain revenues 
allocated for this purpose and any deficit is supplied by 
an appropriation from the city. In any case, widows and 
children of men killed in the execution of their duties are 
cared for, and members wishing to retire after a period of 
20 years' service, receive a pension equal to one-half of 
their salary. 

The City of New York is divided into five Boroughs, 
Manhattan, the Bronx, Richmond, Brooklyn and Queens, 
the two former being separated from the third by the bay, 



260 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

and from the fourth and fifth by the East river. For 
fire protection the Department consists of 298 companies 
equipped with 877 pieces of apparatus, including engines, 
hose wagons, hook and ladder trucks, fire boats, search 
light engines, water towers, etc. Motorization of all ap- 
paratus is proceeding rapidly and by the end of 1914 the 
horse will be practically superseded. 

Of the operations of the Department, as a whole, some 
idea may be gleaned from the fact that between January 
9th and March ist, 1912, New York literally burned day 
and night. One period of 24 hours in February of that 
year witnessed a hundred calls. This tremendous activity 
on the part of the fire fiend was due to some extent to 
the extreme cold, the thermometer registering zero prac- 
tically the entire time, but, judging from the revelations 
recently made, the firebug played no inconspicuous part 
in this state of affairs. 

It is the custom of the New York Fire Department never 
to leave a fire station uncovered, and, in case of outbreaks 
of any magnitude, apparatus from distant stations takes 
up its position in the station vacated. This system will be 
understood by an examination of the accompanying card. 
All companies in the first horizontal line respond on the 
first alarm, i. e., when the street alarm is pulled by a citi- 
zen or a policeman. All companies and officers on the sec- 
ond line respond on the second alarm, which is transmitted 
in the following manner. Should the chief in charge at a 
fire find the outbreak to be beyond the control of the ap- 
paratus of the first assignment, he orders the transmission 
of a second or third alarm. This is always done by an 
officer or by an aide to the chief officer for, though the 
alarm box may be opened and pulled by a citizen, in order 
to send additional calls, an inner door must be opened to 
which none but officers or aides have access. 

The mechanism within this door resembles the appa- 
ratus in use in a telegraph office, and the officer will send 
in his call by tapping 2-2-279; meaning a second alarm at 
station 279. A third, fourth or fifth alarm is sent in the 





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THE NEW YORK FIRE DEPARTMENT 261 

same manner, merely changing 2-2 into 3-3 and so on. It 
will be seen by the card that, on the third alarm, in this 
instance engine company 16 takes the places of engine com- 
pany 17 in the latter's station, and engine company 26 fills 
up the gap left by engine company 14. Similar changes 
occur on the fifth alarm, and hook and ladder company 
21 "covers in" for hook and ladder company 3. 

If the fire happened to be of such magnitude as to de- 
mand an even greater force than would respond on the 
fifth alarm, distant companies in the same Borough can 
be summoned by sending what is known as a simultaneous 
call, or what firemen term "the two nines." The call is, 
to give an example, 9-9-279-3-3-582, which means that all 
companies due on the third alarm at signal box 582, would 
immediately respond with all apparatus to signal box 279. 
In lieu of this can be sent the borough call, which has 
exactly the same effect, but the signal is varied to denote 
the borough from which the apparatus is required, which, 
in the case of the Equitable fire, was Brooklyn. In this 
instance it will be readily understood that there was no 
object in sending five miles north on Manhattan Island for 
companies, when the same force was just one mile away 
across the Brooklyn Bridge. Should the borough call be 
used, it would be 7-7-279-3-3-394, indicating that the com- 
panies assigned on the third alarm at station 394 Borough 
of Brooklyn, would immediately respond to station 279 
Borough of Manhattan. 6-6 denotes Manhattan, 7-7 de- 
notes Brooklyn and 8-8 Richmond. 

There are 3,176 street fire alarm boxes and, roughly, 
ver 5>5 special and automatic signal boxes located in 
factories, public buildings, theatres, etc., and approximately 
1,969 miles of underground conductors, while, by the end 
of 1914, the 2,530 miles of overhead cables will also be 
laid in the former way. The fire alarm stations are situ- 
ated as far distant from the scene of any possible out- 
break as is practicable, those at present in the course of 
construction being located in the public parks of the vari- 
ous boroughs. The Department is housed in 326 build- 




262 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

ings, and every year sees an addition to their number. 
In 1912 there were 15,633 fires as against 13,868 in the 
previous year, the total fire loss for the former year being 
$9,069,580, as against $12,470,806 for the latter. 

Occasionally, in the preceding pages, the reader may 
have thought that the writer was complaining of the posi- 
tion held by the firemen in the public esteem. Certainly it 
is true that the profession is of modern growth and, as 
such, has not behind it those centuries of glorious record 
which make citizens of every nation proud of their army 
and navy. But inasmuch as New York possesses the larg- 
est fire department in the world, and inasmuch as its uni- 
formed force is called upon to combat a greater fire risk 
than elsewhere to be found, then most assuredly is this fact 
recognized by its inhabitants. It is no exaggeration to say 
that no force in the United States, federal, state or mu- 
nicipal, stands in more sympathetic relationship to the 
public. An English friend of the writer's, who knew the 
Department well, was asked what he thought of it as a 
whole. He replied : 

"Well, the greatest compliment I can pay is to put 
them on the same plane with the London police, whom I 
consider the most efficient, best mannered and withal the 
kindliest force it is possible to imagine." 

It goes without saying that the writer is proud of his 
command, proud of their actions, which are engraved in 
the hearts of the people, and proud to think that Provi- 
dence has permitted him to be their Chief. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

SEAPORT PROBLEMS 

THE problems confronting fire departments in seaport 
towns in America are of a nature so widely divergent from 
those needing solution in Europe, that a few explanatory 
words are rendered necessary. As a general rule, tidal 
influences and depth of water play so important a part in 
the latter that it has been obligatory to construct docks 
which shall always be possessed of a certain depth of water. 
There is no need to labour the obvious point, that this has 
entailed harbour construction on a gigantic scale, involving 
in many cases the expenditure of millions of money. In 
this respect the Atlantic seaboard of the United States has 
been peculiarly fortunate, and it is possible, with rare ex- 
ceptions, to berth the average steamer alongside a wharf 
projecting directly from the shores of the river, bay or 
estuary. This, of course, spells cheapness, celerity in deal- 
ing with cargo and a certain amount of convenience for 
passengers in transit. But, on the other hand, it has tended 
most distinctly to increase fire risks. In the designing and 
building of docks the greatest of care and forethought is 
naturally exercised in the safeguarding of buildings from 
fire, if for no other reason than the difficulty that must be 
experienced in successfully mastering outbreaks in con- 
gested areas, dependent upon their ingress and egress for 
the state of the tide. 

Shallow draught fire floats have been constructed 
for this special purpose, but their capacity and ra- 
dius of action are obviously limited, and hence any com- 
parison between American practice and European methods 

263 



264 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

is out of the question. The sheds, or wharves, common to 
America, form about the most dangerous structures of their 
kind in existence. Built on wooden piles, with wooden 
superstructures, they are comparable to nothing but hori- 
zontal flues, through which flames rush with a lightning- 
like rapidity, rendering abortive any efforts on the part of 
the fire department, unless the greatest promptitude is 
shown by all concerned, and demanding the use of fireboats 
with specially designed and extraordinarily powerful equip- 
ment. Fill these sheds with every sort of combustible 
material imaginable; hogsheads of resin, bales of cotton, 
crated furniture, barrels of pitch, stacks of dry goods, and 
such unconsidered trifles as a few boxes of celluloid toys 
and novelties, and can the mind of man conceive a collec- 
tion of heterogeneous merchandise more calculated to pro- 
vide the wherewithal for a conflagration and matter enough 
to assuage the thirsty pens of all the newspaper reporters 
in the town? Yet this represents an every day condition 
in an American port, and it is perforce necessary, not 
only to guard this property but to calculate the even more 
important risk, namely, should fire occur, the danger of its 
spreading to adjacent dwellings. Hence, even the inex- 
perienced lay mind can easily grasp the vital significance 
of fire prevention under such circumstances. But inci- 
dentally, there is yet a further consideration demanding at- 
tention, the possibility of a fire occurring in a vessel moored 
alongside one of these piers. Fire risks on shipboard are 
appreciably greater in harbour than at sea. Discipline is re- 
laxed and sailors and stevedores are human. After a hard 
morning's work a pipe of tobacco or a cigarette is a wel- 
come solace to the most ascetic of individuals, and a 
carelessly thrown match, or the residue of a finished pipe 
is all that is necessary to start a blaze, which shall in one 
fell swoop destroy ship, cargo, wharf and men. In addi- 
tion, though this may be scarcely credited, merchandise, 
particularly cotton,' is often on fire before it is loaded, in 
which case it is absolutely a matter of luck where the out- 
break occurs. Therefore, it behoves wharf masters and 




OIL FIRE. 



SEAPORT PROBLEMS 265 

captains to exercise the most stringent supervision over the 
goods they are handling. These are some of the com- 
plexities which face the master mind of the fire depart- 
ment, and be it remembered that no matter whose the in- 
itial responsibility, if a fire gets out of hand, criticism, 
and perhaps blame, will be apportioned liberally to the de- 
partment whose services have been requisitioned to over- 
come the errors and carelessness of others. 

To meet such contingencies the first essential is a flotilla 
of well equipped fire-boats, numerically sufficient for the 
demands of the harbour they are to defend. Much depends 
upon the architect chosen to design them, and he should 
be given a free hand and be untrammeled by petty re- 
strictions, though needless to add, he should be a master 
of his craft, while too much emphasis cannot be placed 
upon the prohibition of untried innovations. These latter 
may result in serious loss of life and property. It is com- 
monly held that fire-boats should be of the twin-screw 
type ; this, as rendering them more handy for manceuvering 
in narrow crowded channels. But the twin-screw boat is 
more expensive to maintain and operate, and since econ- 
omy is the watchword of municipalities, it has been found 
expedient to evolve a design, the turning circle of which 
with a single screw approximates to that obtained by two 
screws. Shorn of scientific formulae, this consists in con- 
structing the keel of the vessel from the midship section 
aft along a rising gradient, thus bringing the turning point 
well amidships, so that the boat can answer her helm almost 
as though she were on a pivot. In practice, this type of 
construction has proved eminently successful, eminently 
economical and in all respects satisfactory. 

The writer has had little experience with the 
turbine engine as a method of propulsion. But at 
present, while excellent for driving pumps, certain 
difficulties over a satisfactory reversing gear render 
this system in its existing state of development use- 
less for propelling fire-boats. Naturally, of greatest interest 
to fire fighters is the question of the pumps, their style and 



266 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

capacity; for as long as the driving engines are of the best 
compound type, engines of this construction are more 
easily heated than those of triple expansion, and hence are 
of more general use in fire-boats there is no particular 
specification of propelling machinery to be recommended. 
Many boats of old design are fitted with reciprocating 
pumps, and have done and are doing excellent work. But 
it is almost impossible to obtain boilers capable of operating 
the latter at their full capacity say of 10,000 gallons a 
minute. It resolves itself into a question of piston speed, 
and it has been found that under working conditions the 
steam supply estimated to obtain the same, as predeter- 
mined, rarely accomplishes its task. Now, centrifugal 
pumps can do the same work with half the steam, and 
hence, with care, this should enable a boat to manoeuvre and 
at the same time to run her water battery to full capacity. 
The total volume of the streams per minute, in the opinion 
of the writer should amount to 7,500 gallons of sea water 
at a pressure of 185 pounds per square inch. As far as 
actual deck equipment is concerned, the main feature is 
the emplacement of two circular turrets, each operating nine 
separate streams of water and surmounted by a turret pipe, 
through which a powerful jet of from two to three inches 
can be thrown. The old style of running a water circuit 
around a boat represents considerable weight, causes con- 
fusion and adds to labour. The turret concentrates the 
work and is better adapted for the supervision of the officer 
in charge. Provision for a water tower can be arranged by 
constructing the mast on the military lattice girder system, 
surmounted with a fighting top platform, so designed that 
not only can two turret pipes be operated therefrom, but 
also a number of smaller jets, which may not inaptly be 
compared with the machine guns of the battleship. This 
system has been found most effective in fighting warehouse 
and pier fires. Boats should be kept under steam at all 
times in order that there may be no delay in starting. In 
New York, where there is a large fire flotilla, it has been 
found necessary to organize the same into a homogeneous 



SEAPORT PROBLEMS 367 

unit, the better to insure its efficient cooperation. The 
Chief of this marine battalion responds to fires in a steam 
launch and commands on the water side. A code of signals 
has been established by means of the siren whistle, and 
in this way orders are transmitted from the Chief over 
a considerable distance, even though the smoke be heavy 
and the boats invisible. Above all, the personnel of these 
craft should be accustomed to the handling of boats, if 
not actually sailors. They must be alert, active and in- 
telligent, while it is obvious for economical reasons that 
the engineers and their assistants should be highly qualified. 
Otherwise constant repairs will keep the boats out of com- 
mission and entail vexatious expense. 

One of the most terrible disasters, which well exempli- 
fies the perils of wharf fires, occurred on Saturday, June 
3Oth, 1900, at the Jersey side piers of the North German 
Lloyd in New York harbour. At four in the afternoon on 
that eventful day, while hundreds of curious visitors were 
inspecting the four latest additions to the German line, a 
fire broke out amongst some merchandise on Pier 3, along- 
side of which the steamer Saale was moored. The origin 
of the outbreak is obscure, but it was probably caused by 
some unconsidered act of carelessness either on the part 
of an employee or of one of the sightseers. Be that as it 
may, in less than fifteen minutes the flames, fed by stores 
of cotton, turpentine and oil which were lying unpro- 
tected on the docks, swept with inconceivable speed from 
pier to pier, and before the immensity of the outbreak 
could be realized an area a quarter of a mile square had 
been devastated. A strong breeze was blowing from the 
southward at the time and to this the staggering rapidity 
of the conflagration was no doubt partially due. 

Now, it must be clearly understood that, owing to a cu- 
rious anomaly, the New York Fire Department, including 
its fire-boats, had at that time no jurisdiction in the State 
of New Jersey, and hence was unable to afford any as- 
sistance to the vessels in distress, until they were in the 
open stream and upon, so to speak, neutral waters. Then 



268 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

everything was done which science, skill and daring could 
suggest. In view of the disastrous turn of subsequent 
events, this fact should be borne in mind. 

The first intimation of something wrong reached visitors 
in the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse, the then "ocean gray- 
hound," through the appalling noise of hundreds of barrels 
filled with pitch exploding from the heat, like salvos of 
heavy artillery. A wild rush for the gangways followed, 
but the ship's officers with consummate coolness averted 
a panic by announcing that the vessel would proceed im- 
mediately into midstream, happily having a sufficient head 
of steam to accomplish this manoeuvre. The seamen has- 
tily cast off, but so intense was the onrush of the fire that 
one man slackening a stern hawser found the wire already 
glowing from the heat. With her decks ablaze, her wood- 
work crackling, and clouds of steam roaring through her 
exhaust pipes, she presented a terrifying spectacle as she 
made her way slowly to safety. Tugs immediately went to 
her assistance, her guests were rapidly transferred and the 
fire was extinguished, but not before considerable damage 
had been done to her splendid and luxurious cabin appoint- 
ments, which had been the talk of both sides of the At- 
lantic. Alas, not so fortunate were her sisters, who, not 
having steam up, were powerless to escape. To depict 
exactly what occurred upon these vessels at such a time 
of confusion and horror would in any case be almost im- 
possible, and, in addition, of the few survivors, none could 
give a coherent narrative since, practically imprisoned upon 
the lower decks, they were able only to realize that death 
in some form was threatening them. The Saale, in the very 
heart of the flames, was cast loose and drifted slowly into 
the stream, a menace to shipping and a veritable funeral 
pyre to those on board. Hundreds of desperate creatures 
jumped overboard and were picked up by passing boats. 
But hundreds of others were less lucky and were roasted 
to death in the depths of that floating inferno. Little 
could be seen of their plight, but as fire-boats surrounded 
the smoking hull, faint cries from the lower ports attracted 




DOCK FIRE, JERSEY CITY. 



SEAPORT PROBLEMS 269 

attention. Suddenly a naked arm shot out through the 
murk, and a voice, cracked with terror, screamed for help. 
Rescuers placed a hose line in the grasp of the quivering 
hand and as the water brought temporary relief, the crazed 
sufferer was understood to say that with him were forty 
odd men and women awaiting their doom. A desperate 
effort was made to haul him through the port, but his 
shoulders prevented his escape, and even as he was making 
one supreme attempt to dodge death, a wisp of flame shot 
wickedly out from behind him and branded him with its 
fiery tongue. With a shriek of demoniacal laughter, he 
surrendered himself to his agony and fell back to be seen 
no more. Another belch of smoke from the port and then 
a horrid silence. The little band of prisoners were beyond 
human aid, and had journeyed to that bourne from which 
no travelers return. 

Slowly the Saale drifted down the Hudson, a moving 
emblem of the vanity of life and the evanescence of all 
things. Before it finally grounded off Ellis Island another 
incident replete with painful tragedy was to occur. A 
woman's voice was heard calling from one of the ports of 
the main deck cabins, and rescuers could plainly see and 
converse with its owner a stewardess. Again the nar- 
rowness of the ports spelled death a death so supremely 
horrible in its essentials that it scarcely bears narration. 
The fire was just eating its way through the paneled door 
of the cabin, and with the aid of a hose length from a tug 
the woman fought gamely for her life. Needless to say, 
the odds were all on one side. To escape was impossible, 
but none the less the unequal contest continued until, 
with hands blistered, eyes blinded, clothes burning, with 
a cry for mercy to her Creator, this brave soul passed to 
her reward. The case of the Main was equally desperate. 
Although a thousand feet away from the outbreak she 
caught fire almost instantaneously, and her decks were swept 
bare as though in the path of some giant tornado. There 
was no time even to cast off, and until the flames had eaten 
through the connecting hawsers she weltered in a whirl- 



270 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

pool of fire. A few persons had jumped overboard at 
the first alarm and were seen clinging to her propellers; 
then one by one they were overcome and dropped off in 
the muddy eddy which lapped the dock wall. Thus she 
lay for some hours, and it is indeed surprising to relate 
that even sixteen persons out of her complement of one 
hundred and fifty managed to escape. And the story of 
their escape is indeed miraculous. They were all coal- 
passers or engineers, engaged in their professional du- 
ties about the engine room. Upon the alarm being given 
they had found all means of exit to the deck cut off by 
the flames, and had consequently retreated to one of the 
coal bunkers, the door of which they closed. For eight 
hours they remained there uncertain of their fate, ignorant 
of what was happening and in a temperature which made 
it painful to breathe. For some considerable time the 
electric lights burned steadily, a sardonic reminder that a 
supernatural stoker had taken charge of their duties and 
was generating the steam necessary to keep the dynamo 
running. Then came a flicker, the lights shone with an 
uncanny brilliancy, and then there was darkness. The 
silence was still broken by the monotonous hum of the 
ammonia pumps, connected with the refrigerator plant. It 
seemed as though their speed were being increased by 
some ghostly mechanic, for the hum developed into a 
mighty roar, culminating in an explosion, and then there 
was silence. 

It was at eleven thirty that night that the poor, help- 
less Main was grappled by a fire-boat, the crew of which, 
hearing voices, located these prisoners and succeeded in 
hauling them one by one through a coal port. Their con- 
dition was desperate, but ultimately they all recovered, with 
the exception of one man who had been partially blinded 
by steam and died in hospital. 

The plight of the fourth liner, the Bremen, was not 
quite so critical, as the fire did not succeed in getting a 
good hold below decks. She was, however, crammed with 
visitors, which would account for the fact that seventy- 



SEAPORT PROBLEMS 271 

four persons perished aboard her. Like the others she 
drifted away from the burning docks, and it was some 
considerable time before tugs and fire-boats had succeeded 
in getting her under control. Meanwhile, she was acting 
as a veritable torch to all shipping and wharves with which 
she came in contact. Carried by the current toward the 
New York shore, she imperilled all the docks from Thirty- 
third Street to the Battery. In fact, so serious was the 
menace that alarms were sent in to city fire stations, and 
men and apparatus stood by, ready for all eventualities. 
One lighter passed her, caught fire, and drifted alongside 
the Baltimore and Ohio wharf, which promptly in its 
turn took fire. Fortunately this outbreak was quickly sup- 
pressed, but the same thing occurred at several points, 
a sufficient indication of the peril which was threatening 
the whole river front. However, the danger was averted 
and the Bremen secured and later beached in shallow 
water. 

On the Jersey side of the river, the desperate work of 
the fire-fighters had had its effect, and the Scandinavian- 
American Line docks, which adjoined the North German 
Lloyd, escaped with the inevitable injury caused by burning 
embers starting subsidiary fires. At one moment, it was 
seriously feared that they, the Hamburg-American Line, 
the Holland-America Line and the Wilson Line sheds 
would all become involved, together with the vessels moored 
alongside, which would have constituted one of the great- 
est disasters in the history of maritime conflagrations. 
Happily, however, such a catastrophe was avoided, and in 
spite of the enormous damage the fire was practically under 
control within six hours of its inception. But to the day of 
their death, those who saw the Hudson in that summer 
twilight, will never forget its fantastic appearance. The 
four great liners vomiting flames and smoke, and sur- 
rounded with puffing tugs and busy fire-boats, while a 
couple of dozen smaller craft floated hither and thither 
on the most congested waterway of the world, aflame from 
stem to stern, and reminiscent of nothing so much as an 



272 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

Armada of old time fire-ships intent upon destruction. 
Doubtless, human forethought, energy and determination 
in no small degree vanquished this enemy, but Providence 
must have been watching over New York that day. 

The actual extent of the pecuniary loss entailed by this 
conflagration has been assessed at $6,000,000 a mere baga- 
telle in comparison with the four hundred lives which were 
sacrificed. There have been, of course, bigger disasters of 
the same nature financially, such as that of Hamburg where 
it is estimated that fire destroyed $45,000,000 worth of 
property, but none has approximated to this in its sheer 
horror, and in bringing home to the lay mind just what 
may occur as the result of a small outbreak upon a wharf. 
It is almost as though human nature required the sacrifice 
of life, grief -stricken homes and the poignant realization 
of the grimness of death, in order to bestir itself towards 
the adoption of fire prevention in its most simple forms. 

Even the uninitiated will realize readily that the methods 
of coping with fires on board ships must differ radically 
from the systems commonly in vogue on land. In the first 
place the construction of a ship is such that successfully to 
deal with an outbreak bespeaks a rough general knowledge 
of naval architecture, without which the most intelligent 
officer must be hopelessly nonplussed. But under any cir- 
cumstances, it is the business of the Fire Chief upon arrival 
alongside the vessel to consult with the Captain or whoever 
may be in charge, with a view to ascertaining, if possible, 
the location of the fire and the nature of the cargo, upon 
which latter much depends. In addition, on all large steam- 
ers a plan of the vessel is placed in the chart house and 
this will show in diagrammatic form, the various holds, 
with distances from one bulkhead to another, the ventilator 
shafts, and other details of the greatest value in deciding 
upon the plan of attack. The location of the outbreak 
having been ascertained, which should only occupy a few 
minutes, all hose lines should be stretched and in readiness 
before removing the hatches. Also, if steam is being al- 
ready used to hold the fire, a common method on board 



SEAPORT PROBLEMS 273 

ships, it should be shut off as soon as the preparations 
outlined have been made, as it seldom happens that men 
can enter either the holds or " 'tween-decks" of vessels 
where resort has been made to this plan, without allowing 
time for the atmosphere to cool ; a matter of moments per- 
haps, but in such cases it is the seconds saved which count. 
Everything will now depend upon the location of the blaze. 
If it is in the lower holds, the best thing to do is to 
remove a hatch in the lower deck, drop the hose line 
through the opening and simply flood the compartment. 
Should the fire, however, be " 'tween-decks," a different 
means of attack may be successfully employed, providing 
there be port lights in the ship's side. These should be 
stove in about twelve feet apart, a fire-boat should be run 
alongside and should bring into play her lines armed with 
distributing nozzles, which latter should be forced through 
the ports, water being pumped in at a pressure sufficient 
to give about fifty pounds to the sprays. If it is possible 
to reach the ports on the other side of the ship, similar 
tactics should be adopted, and in most cases the fire will 
quickly be under control. Then a ladder should be placed 
down the hatch. As a rule there is a built-in ladder in 
every hatch, but failing this a regulation fire ladder should 
be used, providing solid foundation can be discovered for 
it. Further, all men employing the same should have a line 
around them, in order that they may be hauled to safety 
in the event of any accident. Ventilators leading from the 
deck on fire should be utilized for dropping down hose 
with distributing nozzles into the affected area, which will 
render valuable assistance in cooling down the compart- 
ment. Finally amongst preliminaries, if the pipes used for 
sub-cellar work are long enough to operate, they should 
be utilized down the hatchway. An important point to be 
remembered now is, that all cargo ports must be closed. 
This is rendered absolutely necessary, since the water being 
pumped into the vessel is bound to give her some list, and 
if the ports are left unclosed there is the strong possibility 
that she may heel over and consequently fill and sink. But 



274 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

this by no means concludes the long list of precautions to 
be taken or knotty problems to be solved. Since such 
great volumes of water are being steadily and persistently 
pumped into the ship, it stands to reason that her draught 
will rapidly increase, and if she takes the ground, she will 
instantly list heavily and probably endanger the lives of 
everyone assisting on board, let alone rendering the actual 
fire-fighting ten times more difficult. To keep her on an 
even keel is the primal necessity of the situation and this 
demands as much scientific diagnosis of the needs of the 
moment as ever medical man was called upon to expend 
over an unknown patient suffering from an obscure com- 
plaint. To those who know them, ships are almost human 
in their idiosyncrasies, and the slightest mistake in their 
treatment may spell irretrievable disaster. 

First and foremost, if the vessel seems likely to take the 
ground, by hook or crook, get her off into deeper water, 
and should she be light, fill her ballast tanks. An ex- 
pedient at times resorted to, but by ro means to be recom- 
mended under ordinary conditions is to flood the life-boats 
on the weather side, thus so to speak levering her back 
into position. But this is obviously dangerous in the 
extreme and should never be resorted to, unless those 
superintending the operation are experts and understand 
shipcraft from A to Z. Again, should the fire be gaining 
ground and it seem as though it were getting out of 
control, it is impossible to avoid heroic methods, and she 
must be towed to shoal water and beached, care being taken 
that her decks will no more than lie awash. Admittedly 
this is a last expedient, but it will save her from total 
destruction, providing she is sunk in shallow water, which 
will, of course, make it possible to pump her out and float 
her again. It might be imagined that such total immersion 
would subdue any fire known to man, yet the fact remains 
that cotton is so obstinate in its resistance that the writer 
has seen bales, which have been a whole week under 
water, at a depth of forty feet, that, upon being examined 
shortly after coming to the surface, were not only smoul- 



SEAPORT PROBLEMS 275 

dering inside, but, upon being prodded, burst into flame. 
This gives some idea of the stubbornness to be encountered 
in dealing with some cargoes, and it is small exaggeration to 
hazard the statement that raw cotton requires as much at- 
tention as guncotton, from the skipper's point of view, i. e., 
the safety of his crew and himself. 

A vessel reaching port already on fire, and which 
has signaled for assistance, offers again a rather dif- 
ferent aspect of affairs with which to cope. In this 
instance, steam should be kept playing on the affected 
area and the hatches battened down, until all passengers 
have been taken off. Anything likely to cause a panic 
would be fatal and quite unnecessary. Under the condi- 
tions named, there would be no danger of an immediate 
and fatal spread of the outbreak, such as in the case of 
a building might cause loss of life within a few minutes. 
As mentioned elsewhere in this volume, it cannot be empha- 
sized too strongly that, in the opinion of the writer, steam 
alone will rarely extinguish a fire. In itself, it has already 
absorbed a great quantity of heat and its transformation 
from a liquid state into vapor has been due to just such ele- 
mental activity as it is now called upon to subdue. Hence 
how can it be expected to exercise a cooling effect, which, 
after all, is what is needed, when itself over boiling point. 
All that can be expected is some temporary check, 
consequent upon moisture, but as a permanent and real stay 
to flames it is comparatively useless. It seems almost 
needless to say that in bringing fire-boats alongside steam- 
ers unmanageable on account of fire or whose steering 
gear is in danger owing to its becoming affected by great 
heat, the former should take up a position on the quarter 
from which it is possible to control and steer the latter. 
In addition, in all open waters, care should be taken so to 
handle the burning vessel that the flames may be pre- 
vented from sweeping the decks, as undoubtedly would 
occur were she forced head on into a strong breeze, the 
fire being forward or vice versa. In either case she should 
be kept before the wind, thus minimizing the area open 






276 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

to attack and at least giving the operators some deck room 
upon which to organize their defense. Though strictly, 
perhaps, not within the scope of this chapter, the writer 
is strongly of opinion that the time has arrived when all 
ships should be compelled to carry some simple and effec- 
tive form of automatic fire preventive apparatus. The 
sprinkler system would appear to offer many advantages 
and to be easy of installation in vessels of new construc- 
tion. This might be controlled either from the chart house, 
where exists at present the "smoke pipe" designed to warn 
the officers of a fire in any hold, when upon being definitely 
located the system might be brought into operation, the 
flow being controlled by the ship's pumps, or alternatively 
the installation might be arranged on lines broadly simi- 
lar to those in use at theatres. This would demand a 
fusible plug, which at a certain temperature would melt, 
allowing a heavy and constant stream of water over a 
certain defined area, the pressure, of course, being con- 
stantly maintained by the ship's pumps as in the other 
case. No doubt, expense would be urged as a deterrent 
to the introduction of any such appliances, but it does 
seem passing strange that when precautions without num- 
ber are now being taken to save the careless from the 
comparatively rare peril of the iceberg, so little attention is 
given to the ever-present menace of that most ghastly enemy 
at sea, the flames. Or can it be, as has been suggested, that 
what is wanting is the lurid lesson of a great fire in mid- 
ocean. In conclusion, a few words may not be amiss anent 
the position the fire-boat may conceivably play in any 
municipality boasting of a water way, without which the 
necessity for such a costly accessory could not exist. It is 
commonly presumed that a fire-boat, as such, must confine 
its attentions to its own element, and can in no wise be 
regarded as amphibious. This is an error, which has been 
practically demonstrated by the writer. Properly handled, 
the fire-boat becomes a most powerful and useful auxiliary 
to land apparatus. 
During the San Francisco conflagration, it is reported 







James Duane IN ACTION. 



SEAPORT PROBLEMS 277 

that from a Government Revenue cutter a line of hose 
was run for half a mile and that its cooperation even then 
was valuable. The words, "even then" are inserted, since 
with the limited pressure available from the pumps of 
such a vessel and with no natural aids such as gravity, 
the nozzle power of such a stream could not be seriously 
considered as of particular importance, unless water was 
altogether lacking, as in the case mentioned. But from 
tests made in New York it was conclusively proved re- 
cently that it was feasible and caused no undue strain on 
apparatus to discharge a jet through a one-and-an-eighth- 
inch nozzle at about two-thirds of a mile from the fire-boat 
acting as a pumping station, the nozzle pressure approxi- 
mating fifty pounds to the square inch. There were two 
relay engines in the shape of two ordinary steam fire pumps, 
and when the pressure on the fire-boat registered 280 
pounds, the further engine maintained a nozzle pressure of 
fifty-nine pounds, giving 291 gallons a minute, not a great 
stream, but considering the conditions of the experiment 
sufficient to show the possibilities attendant upon the in- 
troduction of the fire-boat as a land auxiliary. The distance 
for effective relay of water can be proportionately increased 
by multiplying initial fire-boat lines and siamesing them. 
One New York fire-boat can furnish twelve three and a half 
inch lines, sufficient to supply twenty-four engines under 
conditions similar to the test. That in itself is sufficient 
for the handling of a large fire. Thus, it will be seen that, 
in great emergencies, here is an auxiliary to the fire force 
on land which is at least impervious to the breaking of 
mains, climatic or seismic interruptions, and hence not 
lightly to be neglected. 



CHAPTER XIX 

FIRE STRATEGY IN THE HOMES OF THE PEOPLE 

To prevent a fire is one thing, to fight it is another, and 
since this volume deals with all aspects of the subject some 
consideration must be given to "fire-fighting" in its active 
sense, that is, how to deal with outbreaks when an alarm 
is turned in and the best method of using apparatus. This 
may sound to the lay reader stale and unprofitable reading, 
but if he will take his courage in both hands and dip into 
the subject in ever so small a degree, he will find much 
to give him thought, much that will be of value to him and 
a certain number of useful hints which should be of assist- 
ance to him should he ever be unfortunate enough as to 
be involved in a fire. The fire risk becomes more apparent 
as soon as it is realized that it is a menace to the "Home," 
and that the flames are no respecters of persons and are 
as likely to visit the mansion or the tenement as the factory 
or the warehouse. It is hard to realize when reading 
newspaper reports of some great conflagration, quite what 
it all means; it seems so far away, so remote from the 
happenings of daily routine, that it is perused with passing 
interest and forgotten. Then comes the day, when sud 1 
denly the menace appears in all its lurid horror, and behold 
the occasion when an ounce of knowledge regarding fire 
and its usual course of progress may be the means of pre- 
venting the advance of the enemy and of saving human 
life. Of course, prevention is better than cure, but even 
as the hypochondriac occasionally falls a victim to the ills 
the flesh is heir to, and has to invoke scientific aid in order 
to regain his health, so is it with fire. With all the pre- 
278 



FIRE STRATEGY IN HOMES OF PEOPLE 279 

cautions in the world, it is impossible to guarantee that an 
outbreak will never occur, but it is within the ken of man, 
what then to do, and though the professional will be needed 
to fight with the sufferer as the doctor does with his patient, 
the individual who is prepared for the onset and knows 
just what course the attack will probably take is doubly 
armed against the foe. It is for this reason that the writer 
is hopeful that the general reader will persevere and glance 
through the following pages. Certainly if a person of 
discernment, the previous chapters will have shown him 
how life has often been unnecessarily sacrificed at fires, 
when well directed action would have saved the situation. 

In all countries responses to fire calls, particularly those 
turned in from street boxes, are usually very prompt. As 
a rule about twenty seconds is consumed in hitching up 
and getting the apparatus out of quarters. Horses are 
trained to come to their places at the pole on a gallop and 
all harness is hung with an open collar, which locks with 
a snap. Commonly, three engines and two hook and ladder 
companies are designated to respond on the first alarm, and, 
in making the assignments, the company, nearest the 
spot from which the call was sent in, is expected to be 
the first to reach its destination. In forwarding reports 
of operations at fires the officers must state the order 
of their arrival and also which company gets to work 
quickest. 

It will be easily deduced that this creates a spirit of 
the keenest rivalry, and to be beaten in a dash to an 
outbreak at which a company is first due is consid- 
ered a humiliation. If it happens twice in succes- 
sion the commander of the defeated company is asked 
for an explanation, allowances being made for gradi- 
ents and traffic, and should it appear that the 
company is lacking in energy or vim caused in any way 
by indifference on the part of officers or men, a reorganiza- 
tion is sure to follow. This, then, is the primal step towards 
the formation of a good company, which is the unit of 
organization. Horses must be carefully trained, for a few 



280 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

seconds lost in getting away from quarters cannot be made 
up en route, particularly when the other companies have 
had a better start. The driver is as important as his animals 
and should be a man trained to the hour and one who knows 
every inch of the streets, and every fire hydrant in the dis- 
trict to which his company may be called. Many an occa- 
sion can be recalled by the writer when, on the way to a fire, 
he reviewed the whole district surrounding the box whence 
the alarm was received, and had the hydrants clearly 
in mind as the engine approached its destination; often 
pulling up in front of one completely shut off from view 
by obstructions, secure in his knowledge of its existence. 
The engineer should be equally well informed and should 
know the size of the main on which the hydrant is situated 
and how much water can be drawn therefrom. This pre- 
vents the mistake of having too many engines located on 
small mains with low pressure. When approaching the fire 
the engineer should jump from his engine, run ahead and 
have the cap off the hydrant as the apparatus pulls up. 
With the change from horse to motor as a means of propul- 
sion, the department has been shorn of some of the spec- 
tacular features which in the old days added to the pic- 
turesqueness of the proceedings, but the dangers of injury 
in responding to a call through crowded thoroughfares are 
greatly increased. Stretching in hose lines at fires has been 
the subject of many orders and lectures, but when celerity 
is paramount, hose cannot be measured by the foot as can 
be done in a class room. However, when the location of 
the fire has been ascertained, the commanding officer should 
have a fairly good idea of the number of lengths required, 
and it is slovenly and shows but poor judgment to see hose 
coiled in the streets in front of the site of the outbreak. 
Controlling nozzles should be used for inside work in order 
that the stream may be shut off from this point, and at 
fires in tenements and private dwellings the greatest care 
should be exercised in the use of water, as the floors are 
not "filled." In such cases water runs through the floor 
boards, destroying the ceilings beneath and the furnishings 




RESPONDING TO AN ALARM. 



FIRE STRATEGY IN HOMES OF PEOPLE 281 

of the lower floors. The best way to illustrate these rules 
is to assume an outbreak in an old style tenement, where 
the blaze has started in a store on the ground floor. In 
addition to the main entrance and show window, the store 
has a door opening from the rear into a hallway where 
are situated stairs which lead to the apartments above. In 
this type of building there are usually six floors, including 
the store, with from three to four families on each. The 
stairs are of wood, and all partitions are stud covered with 
wooden lath and plaster. The ingenuity of man could 
scarcely devise a better fire trap than that which is afforded 
by this style of construction. To prevent the fire from 
reaching the stair well, and by this means ascending to 
the top only to "mushroom" on the highest floor, is the 
first thing to be done. A line of hose should be taken into 
the hall to cover the rear door and transom to stop the 
fire spreading up the stairs, whereby that means of escape 
from the upper stories would be cut off. The second line 
should attack the fire from the front through the main door, 
while ladders should immediately be raised to the front 
fire escapes and the floors over the store should be exam- 
ined to make sure that the blaze has not mounted through 
pipe recesses or other vertical openings. Should the alarm 
have been sent in with promptitude a fire of this nature 
can, and in all probability will, be confined to the store 
where it originated. 

But if there has been delay and the fire has 
burned through the doors communicating with the hall- 
way and stairs, and by means of these latter has swept 
through a crowded tenement, a very different problem 
awaits the officer in command upon his arrival. As in 
the former instance, the first line should operate in the hall 
to drive the fire back through the door leading to the store, 
and when that has been accomplished the nozzle should be 
directed up the stair-well, which is usually about twelve 
inches wide. A stream sent up this opening will deaden 
the fire down on the upper landings which, at present, it is 
impossible to reach in any other way. The second line 



FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

should be opened on the fire in the store from the front 
and the flames subdued to prevent them ascending on the 
outside of the building and enveloping people who, by 
this time, would be crowding on the fire escapes. A few 
seconds should suffice to quell this portion of the out^ 
break, when the line should be taken to the hall in order to 
cover the first company which, by now, should be ascend- 
ing the stairs. In the meantime, hook and ladder companies 
would have placed ladders on the street side of the building 
and would have begun the work of rescue from fire escapes 
and windows. In cases of this nature events move swiftly, 
and in far less time than it takes to write a line would be 
rushed to the top floor by front or rear fire escapes, gen- 
erally by the latter as the landings are, in most cases, nearer 
the back of the structure. This line is of the greatest im- 
portance, and if the position is reached quickly the fire 
should be prevented from spreading on the top floors, One 
man should be sent by way of adjoining buildings to open 
the bulkhead door, which is found in all places of this type 
and which leads from the highest story to the roof, in 
order to assist in accomplishing this purpose. All possible 
effort should be made to force the advance line up the 
stairs, and here is where men must take their medicine, 
if need be. Life depends on their grit, determination 
and endurance, for work of this kind often entails severe 
trial. By this time the second line in the hall should have 
killed the fire in the store and should immediately follow 
in the rear of the other line on the stairway, in order to 
prevent the flames coming out behind them and cutting 
them off or rendering their efforts abortive. It is essential 
in fire-fighting, as it is in battle, that companies or columns 
be supported, or in firemen's parlance, "covered." To de- 
tach a column from the main army and direct it to attack a 
well intrenched enemy without proper support would seem 
to the writer to be a tactical error; and similarly, to order 
an unaided company into a position where its retreat is cut 
off by fire would be a very dangerous proceeding. In war 
the column would, in all probability, fall into the hands of 



FIRE STRATEGY IN HOMES OF PEOPLE 283 

the enemy and become prisoners, but fire takes no prisoners, 
and the battle cry is, "Death or Victory." Therefore, it will 
be understood that companies must support each other, the 
most advanced being always assisted and covered by the 
other coming up the stairs or on the floors below. There 
is one more essential point to be guarded, namely the light 
shaft which is usually between two of these buildings, and 
the windows opening into this space should be protected in 
order that' the fire should not extend upwards on the outside 
or cross the shaft and ignite the adjoining buildings. This 
disposition of forces should successfully deal with a fire 
of such a character without loss of life, for during the 
operations described the two hook and ladder companies 
would have been engaged in conveying all the residents 
to a place of safety. Every action or order cannot be fore- 
told, nor would the writer attempt to say in what respect a 
commanding officer might find it necessary to deploy his 
forces, but he should use all possible efforts to outflank 
the fire. He should never neglect, when the flames have 
control of the stairway, to take a line to the top floor by 
way of the fire escape. In outbreaks of this character 
there is always danger of loss of life and the risk is great- 
est on the top floors, but with a line following the fire and 
a stream above it, the enemy is placed between two bat- 
teries and his doom is sealed. The opening of the bulkhead 
door in the roof allows the heat and flame to escape, gives 
the men coming up the stairs a living chance and permits 
the other company to effect an entrance from above in order 
to finish the work already well in hand. In dealing with an 
old style tenement it is important to look carefully around 
all pipe vents, and also the partitions near folding doors, 
as every stud partition is a vertical flue and there are few 
fire-stops. The lath should be stripped until it is satisfac- 
torily proven that there are no nests of fire concealed behind 
the plaster. Above all things, a search should be made as 
soon as possible in every room for persons who might have 
been overcome by smoke, and the floors under the beds 
should be carefully inspected for, as already stated, children 



284 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

will invariably take refuge in these places, and if not found 
and carried at once to the open air will die of suffocation. 
This is a brief outline of a fire, presupposed to have started 
in a store, but it may have originated in the cellar, when 
as the building has an inside stairway, this latter should 
immediately be covered to prevent the flames from mount- 
ing. Should it succeed, the outbreak is similar to the one 
described. Therefore, the first object as stated above, is 
to confine the blaze and then the cellar should be entered 
by the front or rear doors. When the outbreak has been 
located, distributing nozzles should be used through the 
floor over the section which shows the greatest heat. Rapid 
action is the keynote of success, and as fire spreads like 
lightning through these old buildings, a few seconds delay 
may mean loss of life. By quick stretching in and with good 
engines to give water to the lines the fire will be suppressed, 
and it is just these qualities of prompt action and swift 
decision which have saved thousands of persons in New 
York City. Each year ten thousand fires occur in these 
homes of the working population, making 64 per cent of the 
total number of outbreaks recorded. Much more might be 
written on old style tenement house fires, though should 
such an occurrence originate on any floor and spread to 
the stair hall the effect would be the same and should be 
combatted in a like fashion. 

It is not the intention of the writer to lay down specific 
rules or to attempt to tell the Chief in command at a fire 
that this or that should be done, since local conditions 
alter cases. For the same reason, no rule is given for life 
saving beyond the raising of extension and other ladders 
on the front, and, if it be possible, on the rear of the tene- 
ment, in order to remove the occupants at different points. 
Extraordinary cases of peril, when all human ingenuity 
seems exhausted, often result in daring feats of rescue ac- 
complished in a way that no one could foresee. In new 
style tenements the stair halls are enclosed in brick walls, 
the ground floor is fireproof and the hall doors leading to 
the different apartments are kalomine. There is usually 



FIRE STRATEGY {N HOMES OF PEOPLE 285 

a long private hall running the full length of individual 
flats which, should a fire break out, would soon be heavily 
charged with heat and smoke. Should the fire originate 
at the end farthest from the door through which the firemen 
enter, great hardship is entailed in crawling the length of 
this narrow passage dragging a line of hose. Water should 
not be started until the blaze is located, so that the stream 
may be played directly on the flames instead of doing un- 
necessary damage by opening the nozzle when no fire is 
visible. In order to relieve the men with the line, hook 
and ladder companies should be active in ventilating the 
apartment, and if there be a fire escape on the front or 
rear, the windows should be opened. In circumstances 
where the fire has gained considerable headway a second 
line should be taken up one of the escapes. Should a heavy 
flame belch forth from windows on the lower floors, there 
is always danger of the heat breaking the glass in those 
overhead, and in this way communicating the fire from floor 
to floor. This should be met with heavy streams from the 
outside to drive the fire back, using a water tower, mast, 
deck or turret pipe, or if none of these be available a street 
pipe may be employed, though these should be shut off 
when the flames have ceased to spread on the exterior. To 
locate and confine a fire to the smallest possible area is 
one of the first great principles of fire-fighting. As it is 
the tendency of flames to burn upwards, care must be exer- 
cised and attention given to the floors above the outbreak, 
though it should be understood that the floors below should 
not be neglected. 

Fire-brands often fall through an elevator shaft, or other 
vertical openings, and start a blaze in the story below, so 
that attention must be given to all parts of the building 
involved and even to adjoining houses. Before leaving the 
scene of an outbreak the greatest care should be taken to 
see that all fire is really extinguished, since sometimes there 
is a tendency to overlook odd corners, resulting in a recall 
to the scene later in the day, an incident all fire-fighters 
regard as in some degree a reflection on their skill and 



286 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

often causing embarrassing questions. A new style of 
apartment house is being erected in New York City and 
elsewhere, divided into so-called "Duplex" flats. Each of 
these has one main entrance from the stair and elevator 
hall, while its upper floor is reached by an inner staircase 
with no means of direct exit to the main hall outside. In 
other words, it resembles a two-story house within another 
house. There are no outside fire escapes, no means of 
reaching the upper floor except by way of the inside stairs, 
and, should a fire occur, the heat and smoke would imme- 
diately ascend and all escape from the upper floor would 
be cut off. Firemen would be obliged to enter the apart- 
ment by the one door leading to the elevator and would 
find that the flames had already extended to the floor above. 
Two lines would be stretched either up the stairs or, if it 
be a building more than eighty-five feet high and the fire is 
above the fourth floor, from the stand-pipes, the engine 
being connected to the Siamese at street level. The first 
line should be opened on the fire to clear the way to the 
inner stairs, the second line should also be brought into 
play to kill the fire on the lower floor and to cover the 
first line which should try to ascend. This may be almost 
impossible, as the heat and smoke will be confined above, 
unless the outbreak is of sufficient magnitude to melt the 
windows or blow them out, and if this occurs the contents 
of that apartment will be destroyed. To ventilate the upper 
floor is the problem before the officer in command and 
the only method of so doing is to use the hook of a scaling 
ladder or a telescope hook which has recently been designed 
for just such cases. When this has been done it will be 
possible to get the lines up the stairs. 

Should the fire occur on the upper story it would back 
down and charge the lower floor with smoke, with a similar 
result. This type of building, while admittedly convenient 
for tenants, is most dangerous in case of fire, and people 
may be trapped twelve stories above the street. Personal 
risk can be obviated to a great extent by connecting each 
floor by means of a balcony fire escape on the inner court. 



FIRE STRATEGY IN HOMES OF PEOPLE 287 

In cases where it is impossible to attack the upper floor 
by way of the stair, the terra cotta partition dividing the 
apartment from the hall should be broken through on a 
level with the upper story. This is not a very difficult mat- 
ter and a hole large enough to admit a man would soon 
be made, and a charged line should be introduced. After 
the room is cooled it may then be possible to effect an en- 
trance, when the line should be directed towards the stairs 
in order that communication with the floor below may be 
reestablished, and a thorough search for possible occupants 
should be made. 

It is remarkable how much more latitude is al- 
lowed in designing private dwellings than is given 
architects in plans for tenements, apartment houses and 
hotels, and many disastrous fires, often attended with loss 
of life, occur in such structures. A common defect is the 
large open stairway, and elevators have recently been in- 
troduced reaching usually to the top floor and capped with 
a four or six inch stone slab, which, from the standpoint 
of fire control is an extremely dangerous form of construc- 
tion, as, should an outbreak occur, the flames will quickly 
ascend the shaft and having no outlet through the roof, 
will inevitably mushroom on the upper floors, thereby 
entailing possible loss of life. Such a thing as fire in any 
part of a house except in the furnace is not thought proba- 
ble or even possible, so when the unexpected happens great 
masses of draperies, carpets and heavily upholstered furni- 
ture soon turn the building into a roaring volcano of flame. 
Many dwellings of the wealthy stand in an enclosure, often 
surrounded by high iron railings, making it particularly 
difficult to get any kind of ladder near enough to be of 
service. This class of structure has no outside fire escapes 
which increases the peril of people trapped on the upper 
floors. In such a case a person should never attempt to 
descend the stairs, but should, if possible, reach a front 
window, or any that can be found smoke free and call for 
help. Every minute of waiting may seem an hour, but 
some one in the neighbourhood will assuredly turn in an 







288 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

alarm. Above all, remember that jumping is the last resort 
of the desperate and, if driven to the final extremity, sheets, 
curtains or blankets will provide some sort of assistance 
towards reaching the ground. 

On his arrival, the commander of the fire forces should 
at once stretch a line, taking it in through the main en- 
trance and driving the fire away from the stairs. If, by 
this time, the flames have forestalled such an attempt, all 
speed should be used to follow in its path and should there 
be a back stairway this should be covered in the same 
manner. It takes but a few seconds to make a survey 
and to see in which direction the fire is spreading, when 
it should be outflanked with all rapidity and its progress 
stopped. The building should be at once "covered" with 
ladders, for while no persons may be visible some may 
appear at any moment. An extension ladder should im- 
mediately be raised, if the fire has control of the stairway, 
in order that a line may be taken through an upper floor 
window to cut off the advance of the flames. Men should 
be sent to the upper floors to ventilate the rooms and to 
search for persons who may have been overcome. The 
size of the house and the extent of the fire should be the 
guide to a Chief on his arrival in summoning additional 
aid, and no time should be lost in sending in further alarms 
where conditions are dangerous. It is earnestly suggested 
that owners should equip their homes with a few fire ex- 
tinguishers to be used pending the arrival of the firemen, 
and it may be added that draperies are a prolific source 
of danger. The first floor at least should be fireproof, and 
in case of an outbreak in the living rooms, curtains should 
be torn down and the fire trampled out or beaten with 
rugs, using any means to hold it in check until the arrival 
of the trained fire-fighters. 

Telephones as means of sending in alarms are untrust- 
worthy, as under such circumstances excitement is liable to 
cause the message to be misunderstood, and in the case of 
town houses there is nearly always an alarm box in the 
vicinity. 




LEAVING FOB A FIRE. 



FIRE STRATEGY IN HOMES OF PEOPLE 289 

The most dangerous fires in private dwellings usually 
occur at night after the occupants have retired, and as the 
bedrooms are generally on the upper floors the premises 
should be thoroughly searched the last thing at night by 
the owner or some responsible person, and if electricity 
is used as a means of lighting the wiring should be fre- 
quently examined. Both owners and architects are loth to 
extend an elevator shaft above the house, because of the 
inartistic effect of having an unsightly object protrude 
through the roof, but the shaft could be connected by a 
fireproof flue to one in the chimney which would carry 
smoke and fire over the roofs and ventilate the floors, thus 
giving the occupants a chance of escape. There also ap- 
pears no reason why the sprinkler system should not be in- 
stalled in houses which possess elevators, in order that in 
the event of a fire, sprinkler heads might operate in the 
shaft and prevent the upward trend of the blaze. In all 
the foregoing classes of buildings fire is always necessarily 
a great menace to their tenants and deaths may result from 
the smallest of outbreaks in a crowded tenement or in a 
great mansion. It seldom happens, however, that the life 
lost is that of a fireman, with the possible exception that 
he may be suffocated by escaping gas in cellars. Here lies 
one of the greatest dangers to the force, and gas should 
promptly be shut off from the building involved, especially 
when the fire has begun in, or has spread to, the basement. 
The above instructions are not difficult to comprehend or to 
carry out, that is to say as applied to the layman, all that is 
demanded is a minimum of coolness and the avoidance of 
panic amongst strangers who may be on the scene and 
are unaccustomed to the realization of the dangers of un- 
considered action. Of course, in large country houses re- 
mote from any professional fire- fight ing force, a private 
brigade should always be formed from workmen on the 
estate. It is not difficult to instruct them in the efficient 
use of simple apparatus, while prompt and timely action 
would in many cases save fine old mansions of historic 
interest, which alas ! are annually lost by fire. Granted their 



290 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

construction is faulty and that the architects of three cen- 
turies ago neglected to consider fire risks, still even so, 
it is an error to give up the battle as lost before firing 
a shot. 



CHAPTER XX 
"QUICK BURNERS" 

IN Europe no less than 350 years have been spent in 
building some churches, while in America 350 churches 
are built in one year. 

There, in succinct form, lies the cardinal difference 
between European and American construction, and it is 
this latter which possesses a profound significance for the 
fire-fighter. In the ancient cities of the old world, from 
time immemorial, stone has played the chief part in the 
erection of buildings, with brick in recent years as a good 
second. 

But in America use has been naturally made of that 
material most ready to hand, wood; and thus it is that 
the fire risk has grown proportionately to the population 
and the birth of new towns, both of which have been 
inordinately rapid and necessitating in their turn celerity 
of construction to meet the ever increasing demands of 
the situation. Further, a man will decide to build a 
mansion for himself, premises for his business or a factory 
for the production of some commercial article. He buys a 
plot of ground, selects an architect, chooses a set of plans 
and specifications, lets out the contract and is in occupation 
1 20 days after he first conceived the idea. Hustle with 
a capital "H" is the keynote of the scheme, and any ques- 
tions of fire control, appropriateness of design or struc- 
tural stability are all swamped in one wild desire for haste 
and the speedy completion of the order. 

Contrast this picture with European methods, where the 
individual breaks fresh ground only after months, maybe 

291 



292 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

years, of careful consideration, and where the great grand- 
son places the finishing touches to the conception of his 
forbears. Again, take the ingredients commonly in use 
for ^the mixing of mortar, that most essential adjunct to 
building operations. The writer has seen in Europe pails 
of animal blood and hair combined with the finest lime and 
sand, it having long ago been recognized that the binding 
qualities of this compound are unsurpassed. In America, 
it is often thought sufficient to employ mud with a sprink- 
ling of cement, which may be cheap but distinctly savors 
of "jerry building." 

It has sometimes happened that whole rows of buildings 
have collapsed because of the inferiority of the materials 
used in their erection, and often weeks after bricks have 
been laid in this mud mortar two fingers would suffice to 
pull them from the wall. True, some improvement has 
taken place of late, but the buildings of the type mentioned, 
carelessly finished within and without, provide that class 
of construction generally described as "quick burners." 

While on the subject it may also be remarked that when 
a stipulation is made in a building contract for "fireproof 
wood and finishings," the prospective owner of the premises 
seldom realizes that wood so treated loses its fire-resistant 
qualities from atmospheric moisture in a few years, while 
hard wood will only absorb 35 per cent, of the solution 
and maple none at all. 

In discussing fire strategy in lofts and commercial build- 
ings entirely new conditions present themselves to those 
previously considered under the title "Fire Strategy in 
the Homes of the People." The former structures have 
large floor areas, usually heavily stocked with what may 
prove to be combustible material, and in many cases open 
stairways and elevator shafts, added to light shafts be- 
tween two buildings, enhance the danger and the difficulty 
of efficient fire control. Bold indeed would be the officer 
who would attempt to lay down a set of strategic rules for 
fighting fires in places of this type, as so many factors 
enter into the problem that a prearranged attack is im- 



"QUICK BURNERS" 293 

possible. The fate of nations has often been decided by 
a successful or a disastrous campaign, worked out by a 
military genius of the "Headquarters Staff," and it is 
related of Field Marshal Moltke that, on war being de- 
clared between France and Germany, he sent a telegram 
and went to bed; every possible detail of the war having 
been prepared months or possibly years in advance, even 
to the number of cups of coffee required at Cologne rail- 
way station for the arriving troops. Fire Chiefs must 
evolve their plans on the instant for they cannot calculate 
beforehand the strength of the enemy. Furthermore "fire" 
is the only adversary which on the battlefield steadily in- 
creases in strength in the exact mathematical proportion 
of the resistance it meets, until the point is reached when 
it is actually held in check. This emphasizes the part 
played in modern fire-fighting by promptness of decision, 
good judgment and rapid action on the part of those in 
command. Hence it can be realized that the mere theore- 
tician stands a poor chance of acquitting himself creditably 
and that it is practice which tells. 

But notwithstanding these factors, there are a few 
general rules which can and must be applied under any 
conditions. On arriving at the scene of an outbreak in a 
commercial building of the "quick-burner" type, the officer 
in command should be able to tell at a glance its height, 
width, depth and style of construction, and for this one 
moment should be sufficient. Here is a most important 
point, for no matter to what part of the building the com- 
mander may be obliged to go thereafter, he has a correct 
map of it and its surroundings in his mind's eye. 

The next step is correctly to locate the seat of the fire, 
which can only be done by an instinct fostered by long 
training and experience, which becomes a sort of sixth 
sense and is therefore outside the boundary of rules and 
regulations. Some possess this faculty to a marked degree, 
while others seem to lack it utterly and, like an ear for 
music, it cannot be acquired though it may be enhanced 
and quickened by practice. Approaching the problem 



294 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

under consideration from a broad standpoint, the plan of 
attack depends upon the condition of the building and the 
extent of the fire upon the arrival of the first assignment. 
If the outbreak is on one floor only, a line forced up the 
stairs to its origin may be sufficient, and it should be added 
that this line usually extinguishes more fires than the three 
or four which follow. In fact, it may be hazarded that 
75 times out of a hundred this will be all that is necessary. 
Should the flames be found to have control of several 
floors, the force should be deployed in such a manner as 
to confine the fire to the area it has already invaded, and 
should it be impossible to enter the building a water tower 
may be brought into action to cover the front, though the 
street is usually wide enough to obviate all danger of fire 
crossing and igniting structures on the other side. The 
rear also must be covered as there is infinitely more risk 
of the flames spreading to adjoining premises at that point, 
for such buildings are often within ten feet of each other. 
Should a fire burst out of the rear windows it will instantly 
cross this narrow space and, if not driven back by lines in 
the buildings behind, they too will ignite. 

Should a condition of this nature confront the chief on 
his arrival, he should immediately summon additional aid 
and a common fault with some subordinate officers, which 
may cause fatal delay, is to postpone the transmission of 
further alarms. Precious moments are consumed before 
the fresh assignments can reach the scene and the fire has 
gained control. Therefore it must be reiterated that a 
correct estimate of conditions to be met is of vast impor- 
tance. Once the rear of the building is covered the side 
exposures must be protected as there are four sides to a 
fire and the one to leeward is naturally the most dangerous. 
Seldom does a fire work to windward as it did in the case 
of the Equitable and hence a line or two should be stretched 
to leeward, the probable route of the flames. 

When control of the outbreak is assured, with front, 
rear and sides covered, it may be possible to enter the 
building unless it be old and heavily stocked. Should there 



"QUICK BURNERS" 295 

be fire escapes on the front, lines can be sent up by this 
means under cover of the water tower and turret pipes, 
and if lines are sent up the stairs the roof should be 
opened. This latter is a prime requisite to relieve the 
building of accumulated heat and gas which might explode 
and would certainly seriously hinder the actions of the 
firemen. As soon as the lines ascending the stairs and fire 
escapes have gained a foothold in the structure, the tower 
and turret pipes should be shut off, as there is no object 
in flooding the floors if the inside lines can control the 
flames. At this time the force in the rear should be ad- 
vanced across the space and effect an entrance. Every- 
thing now would depend upon the condition of the build- 
ing, for as a physician skillfully prescribes to suit the 
strength of his patient, so must the Chief cautiously ad- 
vance according to the strength of the structure. If it is 
weak and tottering after a fire such as has been described, 
and furthermore contains stock that has absorbed a quan- 
tity of water thereby adding greater weight than perhaps 
the supports were intended to stand, men should pick their 
way; and if there is great doubt of its stability lives should 
not be risked until floors are relieved of all possible weight. 
Many deaths have been caused by the collapse of weakened 
buildings during what firemen technically term, "washing 
down." As the first word was celerity the last word must 
be caution, for since the fire is practically extinguished 
there is no necessity to risk valuable lives. 

The fire protection of bonded warehouses offers a curious 
problem. They may not inaptly be described as quick 
burners since their construction the world over is on the 
same lines and apparently framed with no consideration of 
fire risks. For obvious reasons, outside fire escapes are 
barred, the presumption being that their presence might 
encourage the enterprising burglar or smuggler. Similarly 
the floors are of limited height, often with insufficient 
ventilation, economy of space counting for more than 
economy of fire risk. Which all seems futile and the re- 
verse of far-sighted, though it has grown to be a com- 



296 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

monplace that Governments are far behind municipalities 
in dealing with those common sense features which are so 
largely responsible for the safety and convenience of 
modern life. In Germany, it is true, the matter has received 
consideration and warehouses are constructed in such a 
manner that the minimum of damage is done to bonded 
goods, in the event of a fire, by having the floors raked 
and by the structures themselves being built upon the most 
approved designs. But this refers only to recently erected 
warehouses, notably in Hamburg and Bremen. 

Now it goes without saying that as a rule the contents 
of these buildings are highly inflammable and hence every 
scientific nerve should be strained toward the adoption of 
some form of fire control, which shall meet the immediate 
demands of the situation. The sprinkler system naturally 
suggests itself as the remedy, but here questions of space 
step in, since the nozzles of sprinklers are always of a 
certain length and hanging from the ceiling would take 
up valuable room, let alone being peculiarly liable to damage 
during the shifting of goods. An alternative scheme has 
been evolved by the writer, which if not perfect, at any rate 
offers some feasible method of meeting the danger of fire 
and in construction is of a simplicity which speaks for 
itself. It has been christened the "Manifold system." 
Near the front entrance should be located a number of 
valves equal to the sum of the stories in the building. 
These should have pipe connections to each floor the 
nozzles of the same being finished just below the level of 
the ceilings and furnished with revolving sprays operated 
by water pressure. Most laymen are acquainted with the 
ordinary spray used on tennis lawns and grass plots; the 
principle is precisely similar. Upon an alarm of fire all 
that would be necessary would be for the officer in charge 
to ascertain the location of the outbreak and in case he 
could not reach it with a line of hose promptly to turn on 
the valve controlling the nozzles of that particular floor. 
The pressure would naturally be obtained from fire en- 
gines, high pressure mains or, if sufficient, from the 



"QUICK BURNERS" 297 

street mains, though in cases where there was an installa- 
tion of the high pressure system, the latter would be ad- 
vantageous. In any event the fire would speedily be 
damped down admitting of the access of firemen to the 
building, while in many instances such means might in it- 
self be sufficient to prevent further mischief. 

This system of automatic fire-fighting is only in its 
infancy and the march of science will undoubtedly bring in 
its train increased efficiency of apparatus employed and the 
lessened possibility of its operating out of season, which 
sometimes occurs with the sprinkler installation. There 
is a crying need for the perfection of the self-acting fire- 
fighter, since in spite of modern fire resistive tactics, the 
enemy has itself kept abreast of the times and each new 
preventive method is offset by the introduction of some 
fresh element, which promises a splendid stimulant to the 
appetite of the flames. Thus the introduction of the auto- 
mobile has led to the common use of gasoline, in itself 
highly inflammable and demanding special methods of 
storage. Scarcity of coal has turned the mind of the 
inventor toward the use of liquid fuel, while the advance 
of the photographic art has been responsible for the intro- 
duction of the cinematograph with its celluloid film. Most 
assuredly has this form of amusement come to stay, but 
equally its advent has not been an unmixed blessing to the 
fire-fighter since the dangers connected with its operation 
are so diverse and ever present that special precautions to 
meet the same have ever to be framed. And thus it is 
along all lines of advance; if the human brain is never 
idle, then most assuredly the fire fiend is never quiescent 
and is prompt to seize upon fresh opportunities of attack. 

Hence in considering "quick burners" as a whole, it 
may not be inappropriate to include a few words anent 
the moving picture peril, since in all truth this strikes at 
the foundations of the social system owing to the number 
of children who habitually frequent such places of amuse- 
ment. Now, in the first place, if a panic in a theatre is a 
tragedy, then a panic in a moving picture hall is doubly 



2 9 8 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

so, since it is hopeless to appeal to the self-control of the 
audience and the strong chances are that once a rush for 
the exits begins, nothing will prevent confusion and crush- 
ing. Aisle guards can accomplish little if the principles 
concerned are not, in the bulk, amenable to the dictates of 
reason and if old heads are not to be found on young 
shoulders and if amongst the former panic is not uncom- 
mon, what then can be expected from the latter? 

Hence it is that the picture palace should be as fire secure 
as human knowledge can make it, which, in spite of munici- 
pal regulations, is seldom the case. From the nature of 
the entertainment apart from the actual apparatus, all that 
is required is a white sheet upon which the pictures are 
displayed and thus practically any sort of hall will meet 
the case. Old churches, disused stables, deserted chapels, 
in fact any building which is good for nothing else is im- 
pressed into the service and with a coat or two of paint 
blossoms forth under a new guise as a "picture palace." 
So long as the requirements of the municipality have been 
fulfilled, there is no cause for interference and so it con- 
tinues to thrive until the day comes and fire sweeps along 
laying it low like so much match wood and demanding a 
heavy death roll of women and children. 

Now, there is one point in this connection, which, small 
in itself, is really the kernel of the situation. Ninety per 
cent, of film fires occur in the immediate vicinity of the 
operator and yet the observant will have noticed that 
nearly always the box containing the apparatus is over 
the entrance door or, where there are several doors, at the 
end of the hall where the entrances, which often serve as 
exits, are situated. There is no sufficient reason for this 
and it would be just as convenient from a managerial 
point of view were the position reversed and the apparatus 
located at the end of the structure remote from the entrance. 
The reason for this alteration is obvious. In the event of 
a fire, at present, the audience is obliged to pass out, either 
alongside or underneath the probable seat of an outbreak, 
an unpleasant and dangerous task for grown people, an 



"QUICK BURNERS" 299 

impossible one for children of tender years. Now it will 
be argued that the adoption of such an arrangement would 
spoil the performance, since the shadows of incoming pa- 
trons using the centre aisle would be reflected upon the 
picture curtain. The answer to this objection is apparent. 
It would be an excellent move if the centre aisle should be 
used solely as an emergency exit, sufficient width being 
allowed to the side aisles to render both ingress and egress 
easy. 

There are, of course, many other structures, which 
from the nature of the trades carried on within may be 
said well to merit the epithet "quick burner." In fact, in 
such cases it is a question of contents rather than con- 
struction, and in this connection a special chapter has been 
devoted to the consideration of the storage of gasoline and 
the garage peril. There are, however, apparently harmless 
factories which provide the wherewithal for dangerous 
explosions, and it will be well to give some slight con- 
sideration to these. For the benefit of the layman, the sim- 
plest course will be to supply an illustrative parallel. Take 
an ordinary log and try to burn it. Short of placing it 
in a furnace it is next door to impossible to incinerate it. 
Even after a severe fire, hard-wood beams of some thick- 
ness are rarely burnt through, though naturally their out- 
side surface is charred perhaps to the depth of an inch or 
two. But split the log and its component parts will burn 
more readily, while the smaller it is chopped the easier it 
catches alight, until the point arrives when it makes ex- 
cellent kindling. Reduce the log still further and it 
becomes sawdust, which is not only highly inflammable 
but under certain conditions actually explosive. Hence it 
follows that the greatest precautions must be adopted in 
all factories or warehouses in which large amounts of 
sawdust are liable to collect. This doctrine may be ex- 
tended, and might not inaptly be termed "the dust danger/' 

Flour, ground grain of any kind, all belong to the same 
category, and offer the same risks. Therefore let every 
manufacturer or warehouse man beware of accumulated 



4 



300 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

dust which, should the slightest outbreak of fire occur, 
will become a potential explosive. Incidently, there is no 
reason why factories of the nature mentioned should not 
be kept clear of this menace, as, in so many other instances 
of aggravated fire risks, they are as often as not directly 
accountable to the element of carelessness inherent in hu- 
man nature. 

It may come as something of a shock to the lay reader 
to know that drug stores, or chemists' shops as they are 
called in England, are amongst the most difficult problems 
the fire-fighter has to handle. Heavily stocked with all 
sorts of acids and alkalies, no chemist on earth can pre- 
cisely foretell what results may not follow upon some 
unforeseen chemical combination. An explosion may 
occur capable of wrecking a whole block of buildings, as 
was the case in the Tarrant Building in New York in the 
year 1902, or, poisonous fumes may be generated which 
will render it almost impossible for firemen to operate 
within a considerable radius of the spot, unless equipped 
with smoke helmets. It is no exaggeration to say, that the 
harmless looking little drug store at the corner of the 
street, is a factor of such danger that in New York city 
special regulations have been framed for fire prevention in 
such establishments. 

For consider the perilous possibilities of such a common 
chemical as chlorate of potash, an excellent remedy for 
sore throats and coughs, and under certain conditions of the 
greatest medicinal value. Yet the following details of the 
peculiar activities of this substance cannot fail to supply 
food for thought, when it is remembered that its charac- 
teristics are not uncommonly met with in other articles 
usually supplied by the local druggist. 

Chlorate of potash is a white chrystalline body found in 
commerce in crystals or in a powdered form. It consists 
of the metal "potassium" and the gases "chlorine" and 
"oxygen," chemically combined to form a potassium salt 
of chloric acid. The proportion of oxygen is large as 
compared with that ordinarily present in salts and is very 



"QUICK BURNERS" 301 

weakly held in the combination. This makes chlorates as a 
class, dangerous compounds, as heat alone will liberate 
the oxygen, leaving behind "potassium chloride," a com- 
pound similar to table salt. 

Danger arises from chlorate of potash in four ways: 
(i) When mixed or in contact with combustible sub- 
stances and ignited, an explosion results which proceeds 
with tremendous energy and fierceness making a bad fire 
and one dangerous to fight. This violence of action is due 
to the liberation of pure oxygen which immediately attacks 
any explosives present. (2) When mixed or in contact 
with combustibles such as charcoal, sulphur or sugar, par- 
ticularly if both be finely divided, and abraded or struck 
the result will be an explosion. Spontaneous explosions 
may also occur, and near contact between chlorate and 
yellow or stick phosphorous is frequently followed by a 
violent explosion. (3) Strong sulphuric acid in contact 
with a chlorate will cause it to decompose and to give off 
heavy yellow gases which are explosive by even slight 
shocks or by contact with easily oxidizable material. These 
gases will spontaneously enflame phosphorus, turpentine 
and other substances. (4) From the inherent character 
of the salt itself. 

Chlorates, for theoretical chemical reasons, are in one 
sense unstable compounds. The danger from the third 
source is obvious, although it is not imminent from the 
third and fourth as it is from the first and second. In the 
first case, it will be seen that the presence of any consider- 
able quantity of chlorate in a building is a source of dan- 
ger. It would give such impetus to a fire when once 
reached as to make the destruction of the property almost 
certain. When heated alone it gives up its oxygen quietly, 
but in the presence of combustibles, an explosion will result 
from the rapid generation of highly heated gases. A fall 
of floors or of shelves might scatter the chlorate over a 
large surface already hot, or might mix it with highly com- 
bustible materials such as are usually present in drug- 
houses. In either case disastrous explosions will occur. 



302. FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

In the case of the disastrous fire already mentioned at 
Tarrant & Co.'s warehouse, one of the great wholesale 
chemical houses in New York, this is what probably oc- 
curred since tons of chlorate and sulphur were stored on 
one floor and the ensuing explosion consequent upon the 
fire completely destroyed the building and several others 
adjacent to it. In the second case there is danger from 
intimate mixtures of chlorate and combustibles. These 
will be found almost exclusively in torpedo and fireworks 
factories and have the explosive force of dynamite and 
guncotton and in fact may be placed in the same category. 
The explosion is propagated through the mass by shock 
and is practically instantaneous, while in gunpowder there is 
simply a very rapid combustion generated by flame or heat 
alone. For full effect a chlorate powder must be confined, 
or in such quantity as to produce the effect of confinement, 
in the mass. In case of carelessness, such mixture could 
occur in small amounts in any drug store or chemist shop, 
and if stepped upon would ignite. The danger is, that, 
while the explosion in unconfined portions of such mixture 
takes place usually only in the part under pressure, the 
action is continued in the remainder of the mass as a 
fierce and very rapid combustion resembling that of fed 
Greek fire. 

The danger in the fourth case is a doubtful quantity, 
but there seems to be some grounds for belief that chlorate 
will, of itself, decompose with explosive violence, if ex- 
posed to heat and shock at the same time. Alone and 
unmolested, chlorate is a perfectly safe and stable com- 
pound, and the peril arises from surrounding circumstances. 

This brief description of one of the commonest of chemi- 
cal commodities will give the layman some idea of the 
precautions which should be adopted to prevent fire in all 
drug stores, wholesale and retail, and in New York this 
fact has led to the adoption of a detailed standard as to 
the amounts of dangerous chemicals which may be stored 
on licensed premises. In the first place those entering the 
chemical business must obtain a permit from the Fire 



"QUICK BURNERS" 303 

Commissioner, who, with the Municipal Explosives Com- 
mission, considers each application upon its individual 
merits. In the event of any disregard of regulations, 
licenses may be immediately revoked. 

The following are some of the details of the regulations 
regarding retail drug stores. Firstly, it is unlawful to 
manufacture, compound, dispense or store upon such prem- 
ises any of the following substances: Colored fire in any 
form, flashlight powders, liquid acetylene, acetylide of 
copper, fulminates or fulminating compounds, guncotton, 
gunpowder, chloride of nitrogen, amide or amine explo- 
sive, picrates, or rubber shoddy. 

Potassium chlorate in admixture with organic sub- 
stances, phosphorous or sulphur is forbidden, but this re- 
striction does not apply to the manufacture or storage of 
tablets of this chemical, when intended for medicinal 
purposes. Much the same applies to nitroglycerine, which 
is rigidly barred except in medicinal form, as approved by 
the National Pharmacopcea. 

A schedule has been arranged, limiting the amount of 
combustible chemicals and fibres, some of which it may be 
of interest to quote. Thus, carbonic acid 100 Ibs., collodion 
5 Ibs., turpentine one barrel, essential oil 100 Ibs., in all, 
phosphorus red and yellow 3 oz., magnesium powder and 
ribbon 16 oz. in all, powdered charcoal 10 Ibs., rosin 10 
Ibs., lint 10 Ibs. in closed boxes, potassium permanganate 
5 Ibs., silver nitrate I lb., glycerine 500 Ibs. Hence it will 
be seen that a limit is set upon the storage of even the 
commonest commodities, due regard being taken of their 
possible combinations in the event of accident or fire. 

The next official regulation might well find a place in 
chemists' shops the world over. "It shall be unlawful for 
any person to store or accumulate broken wood, waste 
paper, or waste packing material of any kind in any part 
of the premises where goods are packed or unpacked. Such 
materials should be removed at the close of the day." 

In addition, the following restriction is an admirable one, 
and might well be extended. "It shall be unlawful for any 



304 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

person to smoke or to carry a lighted cigar, cigarette or 
pipe, or any lighted substance, within a packing room, cel- 
lar, store-room, or that part of the laboratory where vola- 
tile inflammable oil or liquid is used or handled; and a 
notice bearing in large letters the words, 'SMOKING 
UNLAWFUL/ together with a copy of this section in 
small letters, shall be conspicuously displayed in one or 
more places on each floor." Furthermore, basements and 
cellars must be properly lighted by electricity, and persons 
neglecting this and the above regulations are guilty of 
misdemeanor. 

It may seem to some that these ordinances are stringent 
to the extent of being irksome, but it cannot be too strongly 
emphasized that the every day fire risks of a community 
are in themselves amply sufficient with which to deal, and 
that those exceptional hazards demand exceptional precau- 
tions owing to the unknown character of the outbreak 
which may result from accidents thereto. 

There is one last example of the genus "quick burner," 
that the writer would like to mention. There is a craze 
nowadays, in all parts of the world, for the small suburban 
home, which with its ornamental exterior, tessellated pave- 
ment and brightly painted front door, appears to the aver- 
age purchaser an epitome of desirability. By the fire- 
fighter, however, these rows of jerry-built cottages, hastily 
run up by an unscrupulous contractor, are rated at their 
true value. As a rule, examination will show that there is 
a common "bearing wall" between each two houses, rarely 
if ever extending to the top of the attic. Thus, the whole 
length of these attics, unpartitioned off in any way, forms a 
huge horizontal flue and an excellent ally to the flames. 

In dealing with an outbreak of fire under such circum- 
stances, it is therefore necessary to take lines in six or 
seven houses away from the actual scene of the blaze, in 
order to fight the flames back and to prevent them from 
gaining complete control and sweeping all before them like 
so much waste paper. The structural disabilities of such 
a system are vexatious enough since tenants are unable to 



"QUICK BURNERS" 305 

effect any architectural alterations, but the fire risks are tre- 
mendous. It is another example of that get-rich-quick 
policy, which does not concern itself with such elemental 
factors as fire risk and human safety, and is occupied 
solely with its own selfish ends. 

In fact it is no exaggeration to say that the greater por- 
tion of fire legislation is concerned with the protection of 
the individual against the egotistical indifference of those 
who are ready to exploit him. Fire resistive construction 
costs little if any more than "jerry building," due regard 
being taken of durability, security and reputation, though 
apparently the latter counts but little in comparison with 
lightly earned gold. The public, however, is happily com- 
mencing to take an intelligent interest in fire control and 
the day is drawing to a close when it will be possible to 
gull the unwary by means of cheap ornamentation and a 
prolific use of paint. Or perhaps a hint might be taken 
from Germany, where owner and occupier are held jointly 
responsible for outbreaks of fire. 



CHAPTER XXI 

THE PROBLEM OF THE SKYSCRAPER 

INCREASING land values due to congestion in large cities, 
coupled with advances in the mechanical arts and steel 
skeleton construction have ushered in a new and perplex- 
ing problem for the fire-fighter. In American cities there 
is no restriction placed upon the height to which an office 
or commercial building may rise, as long as certain regula- 
tions are complied with in regard to the material used. 
Height is not prescribed by law, but by economic condi- 
tions. Were it possible to provide inexpensive elevator 
service, there is no reason to doubt that buildings in New 
York would now have a hundred stories as there are already 
several with forty, and one with fifty-seven, floors. In the 
old type of factory or commercial building, ranging from 
one to six stories, the ordinary way of stretching hose 
lines by stairs and fire escapes provided all the necessary 
means for the firemen to reach the seat of an outbreak, 
but in these higher buildings other methods had to be 
evolved. Stand-pipes running from the lowest to the 
highest floors were introduced. At first these were crude 
affairs often misplaced and also deficient in size. However, 
experience soon discovered these defects with the result 
that in New York an ordinance was passed, which it may 
be well to quote. 

"In every building now erected unless already provided 
with a three-inch or larger vertical pipe, which exceeds 
100 feet in height and in every building hereafter to be 
erected exceeding 85 feet in height, and when any such 
building does not exceed 150 feet in height, it shall be 

306 



THE PROBLEM OF THE SKYSCRAPER 307 

provided with a four-inch stand-pipe running from cellar 
to roof, with one two-way three-inch Siamese connection 
to be placed on street above the curb level and with one 
2 ^2 -inch outlet, with hose attached thereto on each floor, 
placed as near the stairs as practical ; and all buildings now 
erected, unless already provided with a three-inch or 
larger vertical pipe, or hereafter to be erected, exceeding 
150 feet in height, shall be provided with an auxiliary fire 
apparatus and appliances, consisting of water tank on roof, 
or in cellar, . . . and such other appliances as may be 
required by the fire department. . . . Stand-pipes shall not 
be less than 6 inches in diameter for all buildings exceeding 
150 feet in height. All stand-pipes shall extend to the 
street and there be provided at or near the sidewalk level 
with the Siamese connections. Said stand-pipes shall also 
extend to the roof. ... If any of the said buildings ex- 
tend from street to street, or form an L shape, they shall 
be provided with stand-pipes for each street frontage." 
As will be seen this sets a minimum requirement of 4-inch 
stand-pipes for all buildings over 85 and up to 150 feet 
in height, and 6-inch for all buildings over 150 feet. In 
practice it was found that a greater diameter was neces- 
sary in order to give more water for fire-fighting, and re- 
cently the diameter was increased to eight inches in build- 
ings over 150, and 6 inches for buildings under that 
height. 

At this point a brief description of a stand-pipe, its equip- 
ment and operation may not be out of place. The material 
used is generally galvanized, sometimes ordinary black pipe. 
In the case of very high buildings the main line must be 
connected by a Y at the street level, giving four 3-inch 
inlets. These inlets to the Siamese have "clapper" valves, 
serving as checks to prevent the water from backing out. 
There is also placed a swing check to prevent the water in 
the pipe from backing out to the street connection when 
the line is not in use. This is to prevent freezing in winter 
time. The object of the pipe line being connected to a 
tank on the roof is to ensure a supply of not less than 



308 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

3,500 gallons of water, which will enable the occupants 
of the building to hold in check an incipient blaze prior to 
the arrival of the Department. All house supply lines for 
domestic purposes attached to the tank, must be tapped in 
at such a height as to ensure at all times the quantity of 
water mentioned. A check valve is placed at the bottom of 
this tank on the stand-pipe line, set to permit a downward 
flow and to prevent an upward flow, in case a fire engine 
or high pressure lines are connected at the street level. 
The omission of this check would prevent pressure on the 
floor below, as water pumped in would merely overflow 
from the tank on to the roof. An open hose outlet on the 
roof will have the same effect, as the writer has more than 
once observed. Officers should carefully note these points 
in making inspections. Templates should be provided and 
connections at street level and also those on the outlets 
on floors should be tested to see that they comply with 
department standards. It is a very serious matter, when 
a dangerous fire is raging in the upper stories of such 
structures, to find that the connections will not fit the 
hose and that water cannot be forced through the stand- 
pipes except through the medium of inside connections, a 
somewhat ineffectual expedient, but that hose lines must be 
stretched 12, 14, 16 or more stories. 

To the unthinking this may represent little, but to the 
experienced fire-fighter it means much. Very few men 
would be able to walk up fourteen flights of stairs and 
then be fit for work on their arrival. Firemen in New 
York must often climb more than 150 feet, but it is im- 
possible to drag hose lines up to such height. Also the 
hose cannot stand the excessive pressure necessary to force 
water to this elevation, and even were it possible, the time 
employed in so doing would permit the fire to extend to 
such proportions as to destroy the building. With suf- 
ficient material on which to feed, a fire will extend in geo- 
metrical ratio to elapsed time, which again proves the 
necessity of speed in order properly to control an out- 
break. All signs regarding pipes should be properly placed. 



THE PROBLEM OF THE SKYSCRAPER 309 

Where there are two lines of pipe, one for the sprinklers 
or perforated pipe system, and the other for the stand- 
pipe, a mistake or misplacement of the signs indicating 
their nature will cause serious delay and often great dam- 
age. At this point it may be well to state that perforated 
pipes are a poor substitute for sprinklers and should be 
taken out of all buildings and the latter installed in their 
place. 

The street connections should be not less than 2 nor 
more than 3 feet from the sidewalk level and at right 
angles to the building, which facilitates the work of con- 
necting up. Should these connections be out of order, lines 
can be connected to the outlets on the lower floors by 
means of a double female connection. The method of 
procedure is to disconnect the house line, put on an in- 
creaser 2^/2 to 3 inches leaving a three-inch male thread, 
to this connect the double female ; this will give a three-inch 
female connection for the male end of the hose stretched 
from the engine or high pressure hydrant. As soon as 
connection is made, open the valve and start the water. 
All outlet valves on floor outlets should be of the gate 
type, which gives a free waterway, whereas the globe type 
materially reduces the flow. Where several lines are being 
used on the upper floors of a building, and the two or four 
lines connected to the Siamese are overtaxed, the supply 
may be augmented by connecting to the lower floor outlets 
as previously described. In New York, stand-pipes are 
used in buildings so equipped when the fire is on or above 
the fifth floor. Below this point the ordinary method is 
preferable. The hose provided in these buildings should 
be of good quality, capable of sustaining a pressure of 200 
pounds and be fitted with i or i^-inch nozzles. In many 
cases, through lack of attention on the part of owners or 
agents to keep the hose in proper condition, the firemen 
fear to trust it and connect up a department hose, using 
their own controlling nozzles for inside work. 

In order to describe the actual use of these stand-pipes 
and the pressure required to force water to the upper 



3io FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

floors of buildings on fire, let it be assumed that there is 
an outbreak on the sixteenth floor of a 2O-story building. 
The companies arrive and connect to the stand-pipe, and 
as the fire is a threatening one four lines are led to the 
Siamese. Hook and ladder and engine company men pro- 
ceed to the floor directly beneath the fire, by order of the 
Chief, using the elevator for this purpose. The ordinance 
requires that night and day elevator service must be pro- 
vided in all buildings over 150 feet in height. Each com- 
pany has its instructions, and a Battalion Chief, in com- 
mand on the inside accompanies them. As soon as con- 
nections have been made to the Siamese, the chief officer 
must determine the pressure necessary to furnish effective 
fire streams on the sixteenth floor, or an approximate 
height of 170 feet. The formula, for this procedure is to 
multiply the height of the building by .434, but here there 
is no time for pad and pencil. The best method is to 
allow 5 pounds for each floor of elevation, and at the height 
above mentioned it can be readily grasped that the result 
is 80 Ibs. 7 Ibs. more than the exact formula but which 
will be needed as the stand-pipe goes from the sidewalk 
to the basement and perhaps to the sub-basement. This 
gives the column additional length and as the stand-pipe 
often makes a right angled turn at the basement level there 
is an additional loss of pressure at that point. Also there 
is a nominal friction loss in the pipe itself. The writer's 
purpose is not to weary the reader with technical details, 
but it is necessary to explain this procedure for the benefit 
of commanding officers at fires, at greater length than 
many other subjects with which firemen are more familiar. 
Therefore, 5 Ibs. will be allowed to each story for weight, 
about 4 Ibs. friction loss for each 50- foot length of 3-inch 
hose, 5 Ibs. loss at Siamese connections and 10 Ibs. for 
entry head at the valve outlet on the upper floors. 

It will be assumed that there are two lengths of 3-inch 
hose in each line, giving 8 Ibs., 5 Ibs. for Siamese, 80 
for weight of water column and 10 for entry head; mak- 
ing 103 Ibs. in all. Add to this the force necessary to 



fit. PrPS. 
FriOMhOU< 
F-U/01P3 



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23*SZOOfl 



PRESSURE XT oun-rrj /3.g,}t>i. 



/8 r "ftOOf1 



ttOFZET 
iYATIQ 



/ 3 "/ZOO ft 



II '"FLOOR 



1 9?" FLOOR I 



! 6 FLOOR 



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DIAGRAM SHOWING APPROXIMATE PRESSURE 
IN SECTIONS BETWEEN REGULATING VALVES. 





DETAIL SHOWING POSITION OF 
REGULATION VALVE ON BY-PASS OF STANDPIPE. 



THE PROBLEM OF THE SKYSCRAPER 311 

give effective nozzle pressure which would be from 50 
Ibs. and upward according to the extent of the fire and 
the result is 153 Ibs. This, of course, might be varied 
if a number of streams were taken off the stand-pipes, 
as the friction loss in hose and pipe is as the square of 
the velocity. That is, if water is travelling at the rate of 
ten feet a second the square of ten is 100, but let the flow 
be increased to 20 feet per second, and the square is four 
hundred, or four times as much. Therefore, while the 
velocity would only double the friction loss would be four 
times greater. Officers arriving at an outbreak, find, as by 
a predetermined order, that the pressure on the mains is 
100 or 125 pounds. They must judge instantly if addi- 
tional pressure is required and order it promptly, though 
it must be remembered that much damage may be done by 
excess in this direction. The writer once arrived to take 
command at a fire in a five-story commercial building. 
The structure had 50 feet frontage and was 200 feet deep 
and the fire had control of the three upper floors and was 
threatening surrounding property. The officer found in 
charge was asked what he had done and if additional com- 
panies had been summoned, as there was but a first alarm 
assignment at work. The reply was, "No, sir, I did not 
send out a second alarm, but I ordered 250 Ibs. pressure on 
the high pressure pumps." This was soon after the in- 
stallation of the high pressure service and officers had not 
yet mastered its proper use. In this case 125 Ibs. was 
quite sufficient, or at most 150, to which point the pressure 
was immediately reduced and additional forces summoned. 
The very high and unnecessary pressure might have caused 
damage to hose, apparatus, pumps or even men. Officers 
who wish to master these technical details should study 
them at leisure in their offices, so that they may be available 
for instant practice at a fire. 

The best method of fighting fires in lofts or office build- 
ings of great height is to connect the first line at the outlet 
floor below the fire, lay the line out free of kinks and 
stretch up the stairs. Charge the lines. Never be caught 



312 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

with an empty line in hand when the door is opened. Here 
is where many a man is injured, for his old enemy, "back- 
draught," is just inside and the moment the door is opened 
it rushes out with superhuman force. 

Lie low and like a pugilist, duck the blow, and open up 
the pipe at once. Without going into a scientific discus- 
sion of the causes of back-draught, it may be well roughly 
to define it and to describe its action from a fireman's 
viewpoint. Plainly stated, it is an excessive pressure on a 
floor where windows and doors are tightly closed. As the 
heat increases the air expands, causing a greater pressure 
on the floor than the corresponding outside atmosphere. 
When a vent is given there is a blowout, resembling an 
explosion, for the pressure must be equalized. In other 
words the pressure on the floor must be brought down to 
the corresponding atmosphere on the exterior. The first 
explosion may be slight, but is often followed by a more 
dangerous outburst, depending upon the degree of heat 
on the floor. The influx of fresh oxygen supplies abun- 
dant fuel for the flames and the smoke, which is part of 
the goods imperfectly consumed, bursts into flame and 
shoots through the opening. This condition must be 
guarded against, as men may be caught on the stairs and 
literally roasted. The sudden outburst of flame may also 
blow out windows on all sides, endangering surrounding 
property or the floors above. Another, and still more dan- 
gerous form of back-draught, is where a slow burning fire 
consumes the oxygen in a building tightly sealed. A gas 
much lighter than air results, and this is particularly aggra- 
vated by the nature of certain kinds of goods. As is well 
known, different chemical changes take place in different 
kinds of material. A vacuum is formed inside the building 
and as soon as the latter is opened there is an inrush of air 
which coming in sudden contact with the gas, causes an 
explosion. The writer has often seen this peculiar phe- 
nomenon. The explosion is preceded by an awe inspiring 
silence; nature seems suspended for the moment while the 
two elements meet. In an instant, all is wreck and ruin. 



THE PROBLEM OF THE SKYSCRAPER 313 

Men of experience instinctively feel this condition, and 
the order to back down and out is instantly given, though, 
if in a position where they cannot get away at once, men 
should drop on hands and knees, covering their faces from 
the wave of flame. It may pass over without doing dam- 
age, when they should instantly arise and keep the pipe 
open while backing out of danger. Perhaps in all the 
science of fire- fighting no part requires more care and at- 
tention than the opening of buildings on fire. Many brave 
men have lost their lives at this dangerous work. At a 
fire in the stock yards in Chicago, Chief Horan and 23 
officers and men were killed just as the door was opened. 
There were no windows in the building through which the 
pressure could be relieved, and the wall gave way under 
the strain, burying all who were in front of it. Where 
such conditions are suspected, an opening should be made 
in the roof; this will relieve the pressure and is a fairly 
safe method. 

A brief reference must be made to the following im- 
portant point. In cases where fire has complete possession 
of i, 2 or 3 floors in a high building, beyond the reach 
of towers or turrets, great care should be exercised in 
placing lines above the outbreak. Companies of men with 
good streams should be at the doors below in order that 
the fire may not come out and cut off the retreat of the 
men above. Buildings of this class have more than one 
stairway and more than one stand-pipe, and the least ex- 
posed position should be chosen in advancing lines to the 
upper floors. No line should be sent to an upper floor 
until the companies operating the one below have gained 
a foothold inside the door, with a reasonable assurance 
that they can hold the position. Give as much ventilation 
as possible in order that the ascending smoke and heat 
may be minimized. Chiefs should avail themselves of rear 
fire escapes and every other possible point to get ahead of 
the fire, for should it once become uncontrollable on the 
upper floors men cannot be kept in the building, and a 
collapse may momentarily occur. In all buildings of this 



3 i4 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

class fire towers should be provided. These are separate 
and distinct from the main building and in order to reach 
them it is necessary to pass from the floor through a fire- 
proof door on to a balcony outside the building, and 
through another fireproof door into the tower itself. Or 
as a variant to this system there is a plan whereby every 
building is to be divided into two sections by means of a 
fire wall running from cellar to roof. This fire wall would 
have fireproof doors on each floor and there is almost no 
chance of a fire starting simultaneously in both parts of a 
building so divided. In case of an outbreak in one section, 
the people on each floor would walk through the doors to 
the other section, shut them on the fire and take their 
time to reach the street and firemen could easily gain a 
foothold on a floor subdivided in this manner. A stand- 
pipe, in the former case, should run from lowest floor to 
roof through the tower. Firemen could pass ahead of a 
fire and attack it on each floor with perfect safety. For 
rescue of occupants, this means, combined with the afore- 
said horizontal fireproof partitions subdividing the floor 
area, would make the buildings safe for public and firemen 
alike. Add to these two indispensable requisites a thorough 
installation of automatic sprinklers, and the high building 
would be shorn of its terrors. 

In conclusion, the writer feels that after the foregoing 
pages, with their somewhat technical details from the lay- 
man's point of view, it may not be without interest to give 
some slight description of the greatest skyscraper in the 
world, the Woolworth Building of New York. Incident- 
ally, this gigantic block of masonry was designed by its 
namesake as a memorial of his earthly success and to the 
glory of the commercial enterprise of America. Including 
basement and sub-basement, it consists of 57 stories, and 
rises to a height of 790 feet above street level, with a main 
frontage of 150 feet. Thus it will be seen that it is five 
times its own width and is less than 100 feet short of the 
Eiffel Tower. It is, of course, of fireproof steel frame 
construction. The preparations for the foundations were 



THE PROBLEM OF THE SKYSCRAPER 315 

begun in August, 1911. On May ist, 1913, the doors were 
thrown open to tenants. This represents a period roughly 
of twenty months, during which time nearly three stories 
must have been added every thirty working days. Besides 
containing business premises, which, incidentally, are ar- 
ranged as regards floor space to suit the wishes of tenants, 
it is equipped with two restaurants, one in the cellar and 
one on the twenty-ninth floor, Russian and Turkish baths, 
a swimming pool and ice plant. All window frames within 
30 feet of any other building are of hollow copper glazed 
with wire glass. It has four enclosed stairways of iron 
and marble, though only one extends to the top of the 
tower. There are 28 passenger elevators built on the most 
up-to-date fire resistive principles. For the protection of 
the building, the following equipment has been installed: 
There are six 6-inch risers running from the sub-cellar 
to the 30th floor, two from the 3ist to the 4ist floor and 
one from the 4ist to the 55th floor fed by tanks on the 
following floors: 

1 Tank 6,300 Gals, on I4th floor, feeds from sub-cellar to I2th floor. 

2 Tanks 10,000 Gals, on 26th floor, feeds from I3th to 24th floor. 

1 Tank 3,100 Gals, on 37th floor, feeds from 25th to 34th floor. 

2 Tanks / {Z^ Gals' ) on 5 th floor ' feeds from 35th to 48th floor ' 
I Tank 1,200 Gals, on 53rd floor, feeds from 49th to 53rd floor. 

There are four outlets above this tank with no supply. 

The main riser, 6-inch, has checks on the I4th, 27th, 
37th, 5<Dth and 53rd floors with checks on the horizontal 
run. 

There are two suction tanks in the sub-cellar : 

i 30' x 9' x 9! 

"I 15' x 9' x 9' 

There is a swimming pool in the sub-cellar Turkish baths 
which can be used as a suction tank, with a capacity of 
30,000 gallons. 

There is one Dean Electric Pump, 3^' x 6' with a capa- 
city of 300 G. P. M. 



316 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

There are in addition five Worthington Steam Pumps as 
follows : 

i 20' x 9' x 1 8' 500 G. P. M. 
i 20' x 10% x 15' 500 G. P. M. 
114' x 6y 2 x 15' 150 G. P. M. 
i 14' x 6% x 10' 150 G. P. M. 
112' x 4^ x 10' 80 G. P. M. 

All pumps can be operated singly or collectively, and are 
supplied by street mains as follows: 

16* from Broadway. 
23* from Park Place. 
2 3 * from Barclay Street. 

Such are a few details of this extraordinary structure, 
which may be expected to house daily some 10,000 souls. 
And there is no reason to believe that finality has been 
reached. Room must be found for the teeming thousands 
who throng to the business section of New York, and ex- 
pansion must occur by the way of least resistance up- 
ward. 



CHAPTER XXII 

APPARATUS FOR FIRE-FIGHTING 

NOT since the first fire department was organized in 
ancient Rome has there been such an awakening as at the 
present time, and all countries are vying one with the other 
in the development of fire controlling and fire preventing 
appliances. In fire control the greatest effort is being 
made to develop motor propelled apparatus and motor 
driven pumps. The method of propulsion is almost per- 
fected, as all that was necessary was to apply the principles 
so successful in moving pleasure and commercial vehicles 
to fire apparatus. But with the motor driven pump mat- 
ters are somewhat different. Perhaps no mechanical 
device used in the control and extinguishing of fire has 
reached such a high state of perfection as the steam pump. 
To discard this time honored and often severely tried 
machine for a practically untried device, untried at least 
under severe conditions such as being forced to deliver 
water under high pressure for 35 or 40 hours or longer, 
would be unwise. Many American cities have a fire hazard 
due to old and faulty building construction, narrow streets 
and severe weather conditions, where it would be almost 
criminal to install a new type of apparatus until it had 
been tested in places where the risk would be limited. 

It was the feeling that absolute reliability must be 
guaranteed which caused many cities to hesitate in adopt- 
ing the motor driven pump. An extensive field was found, 
however, for this type of apparatus in suburban settle- 
tlements and in small towns. In these places the fire force 
is usually a voluntary one, horses are not always available 

317 



3 i8 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

nor can fuel easily be supplied, and should it happen that 
there is not sufficient water pressure in the mains a motor- 
propelled and motor-driven pumping machine is a great 
boon. It requires but one man to take the machine to the 
scene and it can be accomplished in one-tenth of the time 
required for a horse-drawn or hand-pulled engine. Time 
is all-important in such cases, and as the run is often long 
and the gradients heavy, great damage may be done before 
the arrival of firemen or apparatus which usually results in 
the total destruction of the building involved. Therefore 
in such places and under such conditions motor-propelled 
apparatus is, and motor-driven pumps may be, desirable; 
but in large cities, where great congestion intensifies the 
fire hazard, the first efforts of manufacturers were not suc- 
cessful in producing a motor-driven pump to meet the re- 
quirements of the Fire Department. 

The scrap heap was large in those days, but there is 
some evidence that it is diminishing. Manufacturers 
found by the only reliable method, that of experience, that 
some of their pet ideas were not feasible. Chiefs of Fire 
Departments discovered this to their cost, but out of con- 
fusion is being evolved a fairly good motor fire engine. 
Naturally, it is still lacking in the perfection of the steam 
pump, but when it is considered that fifty years were re- 
quired to develop this apparatus, it must be allowed that in 
possibly one-quarter of this period a most excellent motor- 
driven pump will be in use. 

The steam pump was brought to perfection along the 
line of reciprocating motion, steam being particularly 
adapted to this movement as shown in all kinds of steam 
engines, marine, stationary, etc. But the application of 
a somewhat different force, that of gas explosions, to a pis- 
ton, developing what is practically a rotary motion, the 
writer is inclined to think will not be so efficacious. For 
any man to attempt to condemn the reciprocating sys- 
tem would be folly; it may work, and as a matter of fact 
does work, fairly well, several firms having turned out 
average machines of this type. But in converting one mo- 



APPARATUS FOR FIRE-FIGHTING 319 

tion to another there is necessarily the introduction of 
complicated gears and a multiplicity of parts, often hard 
to reach in case of repairs, and there is in any case a loss 
of power in transmission which would seem to militate 
against the piston pump. 

As some pin their faith to the reciprocating style, so 
others favor the rotary. This type seemed to promise suc- 
cess, as there was no conversion of motion and the gear 
was much simpler. However, some new and many old de- 
fects showed up, and the great fault of excessive slip 
known to exist in all rotary pumps when run at high pres- 
sure was still apparent. Close-fitting casings with the in- 
troduction of improved springs behind the gibs seemed to 
promise success, but under severe trial were glaringly de- 
fective. No chief of experience could be satisfied with 
this. The manufacturers greatly improved the old rotary 
type of twenty-five years ago. The diameter of the shaft 
being increased to take out spring under high pressure. 
The shafts were shortened for the same reason. Water 
pockets between the gears, which gave a back pressure, 
were changed by tapping into the pocket or hollowing out 
the casing and piping around to the discharge. But still 
there is room for improvement. When a very high pres- 
sure is required, a point is reached when a rotary pump 
acts almost like a piston pump, each gear striking a blow 
exactly like the plunger, when the point of closest contact 
to the casing is reached. This is bound to jar injuriously 
the entire machine, and to wreck it unless it is very strong. 
Such are a few of the defects which came under the 
writer's notice when watching tests. There are many 
things to be said for and against all types, but the opinion 
may be hazarded that even the makers of these rotary, or 
gear, pumps know and admit that this apparatus is not the 
equal of the steam pump. 

Another type tried with moderate success is the centrifu- 
gal. That this would be a immediate success there is not 
the slightest doubt, were it not that, like the reciprocating 
pump, it is somewhat difficult to use it in conjunction with 



320 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

the motor. In order to obtain a centrifugal pump which 
will deliver 750 gallons of water per minute at 130 Ibs. 
pressure per square inch and come within the weight prac- 
tical for fire apparatus, it must run at a speed of 16 to 18 
hundred revolutions a minute. For fire apparatus, at least, 
this is not practical, for a new difficulty arises, that of cool- 
ing the cylinders. High speed is possible in fast moving 
cars when a strong current of air is forced through the 
radiator, but in fire apparatus standing stationary at a fire 
the designers are confronted by very different conditions. 
Therefore, in order to obtain the speed, a differential of at 
least two to one is necessary, or the other alternative must 
be used; that of increasing the size and driving direct at 
the same speed as the motor. In the one case there is the 
differential gear with some loss of power, and in the other 
a slow but much heavier pump. Could a motor be built 
that would directly drive a centrifugal pump at a speed of 
twelve hundred revolutions a minute, it would be the ideal 
type for motor apparatus, and the writer believes that one 
will soon be obtainable. 

As already stated in this volume, there are various de- 
vices for raising aerial ladders, some mechanical, others 
electrical and still others by means of compressed air. It 
is not the purpose to enter into an explanation of how 
these devices should be operated as any intelligent fireman 
can learn their use in half an hour, but a word may be 
said as to the placing of the ladders themselves. The 
writer has often seen ladders in such a position that it was 
quite difficult to work on them to advantage, whether the 
work was rescuing persons or operating lines. 

In order to obtain a clear idea of the proper position in 
which to place a truck so that an aerial ladder may be 
properly operated, let it be assumed that the ladder is to 
be raised to a window on the sixth floor of a commercial 
building. This would be about 65 feet from the ground, 
as the first floor is about 15 feet and the others about 10 
in height. The approximate measurements can be deter- 
mined by a practical truck man at a glance, and the truck 



APPARATUS FOR FIRE-FIGHTING 321 

should be set about 16 feet from the building with the 
centre of the turntable in line with the centre of the win- 
dow. The point of the fly ladder should extend about 15 
inches above the sill, but care should be taken in placing the 
same that it should not be permitted to rest heavily on the 
sill, but should be lowered to within a few inches of it. 
As soon as the weight of a body is near the top it will 
cause the ladder properly to set against the window ledge. 
Should the ladder be originally placed as above, there is 
no danger of its buckling in the centre. Reference is made 
to this matter of properly placing ladders on account of 
the great difference in the width of sidewalks and some 
officers accept the sidewalk as an infallible guide. Of 
course it is not intended that the space should be measured 
off with a two- foot rule, but a little thought and experience 
works wonders, and if they would only practice with lad- 
ders of various sizes they would quickly pick up the faculty 
of placing them in proper position. In the New York Fire 
Department, frequent drills are held and it is surprising to 
see how rapidly even untrained men grasp the idea. A 
poorly placed ladder at a fire is inexcusable. 

For those who care to go into the subject a little more 
deeply and perhaps to practise at the drill school with ap- 
paratus, the following rule may be helpful: Divide the 
height to which the ladder is to be raised by five and add 
three. Thus, take a thirty-five-foot ladder. Five into 
thirty-five goes seven times, add three and the result is ten. 
So the butt of the ladder should rest about ten feet from 
the building. Or again a seventy-five- foot ladder should 
be placed approximately eighteen feet away, and so on. 
This rule is not worked out to inches, but it constitutes a 
fair guide when sidewalks are very wide or the reverse 
and affords the officer in charge a working basis. 

A few words may perhaps be appropriate at this point 
anent an unique feature of American fire practice, namely 
the water tower. This apparatus consists merely of a lat- 
tice work tower mounted on a quadrant, through the in- 
terior of which passes a hollow tube, through which again 



322 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

an extension tube on the telescopic order is fitted in such a 
manner that it may be extended in a similar way to the 
extension ladder. When fully extended the tower is be- 
tween 65 and 70 feet. When not working it is kept in a 
horizontal position, being raised when necessary either by 
hydraulic pressure or by springs. It is especially useful in 
fighting fires in high buildings and that its adoption is not 
general in Europe is due to the fact that local conditions 
are not as a rule such as to necessitate its employment. 
None the less the following details may be of assistance to 
fire chiefs in all parts of the world. 

In many small fire departments, and for that matter in 
some of appreciable size, it is customary to use the bed 
ladders on trucks as water towers. Not being possessed of 
the latter apparatus, chiefs are obliged to use a makeshift 
in order to get a nozzle into an elevated position at fires 
where the ladder cannot be lowered against the building. 
A ladder pipe after the style of turret pipes used on wagons 
and water towers should be permanently attached to the 
under side of the ladder and securely fastened. A length 
of three-inch hose is attached to the pipe and strapped to 
the ladder with a Siamese connection on the ground. 
Should a water tower be needed, this will effectively take 
its place. Run in two lines, connect to the Siamese, raise 
the bed ladder to the desired position and the stream is 
controlled from the street by guys or a man may be sent 
aloft to direct it. If it appears cumbersome to have an 
entire length with the Siamese attached, a short length of 
about ten feet may be used and it should be kept in position 
with the pipe near the end, and in case a water tower is 
needed the short length is connected with a length of three- 
inch hose carried for the purpose. This will bring the si- 
amese to the street level and will give mobility to the line. 
In case there is no stationary pipe on the ladder, an open 
nozzle should be connected to a length of three-inch hose 
and laid on the ladder with the nozzle pointing through 
the rounds about two from the top. It must be lashed in 
position, and if the company contains a practical, or even 



APPARATUS FOR FIRE-FIGHTING 323 

an amateur, sailor he should be employed to make the knot. 
Landsmen ought to be well versed in making such knots 
in advance, as it is useless to instruct a man in such work 
at a moment when celerity is most necessary. 

A word of caution should be inserted in connection with 
the use of aerial ladders as water towers. Although the 
writer is aware that a ladder so converted is still available, 
all ladders should not be used for this purpose. Persons 
in the building may be cut off by the flames or if the fire- 
fighters are pocketed a long ladder may be necessary in 
order to effect their rescue and judgment must be used in 
the number of ladders which may be transformed, al- 
though all that is necessary to do is to shut off the water, 
disconnect the lines, lower the ladder, ship the steering 
wheel and move the truck to the point where it is needed. 
But it must be remembered that this will take an appreci- 
able length of time, and the fire, sweeping toward the im- 
prisoned people, will not await the convenience of the de- 
partment. Hence use caution before converting an escape 
into a water tower. 

As to the success of the gasoline motor for hauling ap- 
paratus, there can be no question. The experimental stage 
has passed and that of certainty has arrived. The main 
point is whether the motor should be built in as an integral 
part of the apparatus, or whether it should be detachable 
and be in the form of a tractor. In some ways the latter 
seems preferable since, should anything happen to the 
tractor necessitating extensive repairs, it is easily discon- 
nected, another tractor attached and the apparatus kept in 
service. It appears that this style of traction is coming 
into general use and the writer believes will be universally 
adopted both in fire departments and commercially, as time 
demonstrates its utility. It is beyond the scope of this 
work to enter into a detailed description of each part of 
motor apparatus, but rather to afford some general idea 
of what experience has taught. 

A word may here be said anent the storage battery. 
Many fire chiefs express a strong preference for this style, 



324 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

and, like everything else, it is possessed of some good 
points and a number of bad ones. Thus the batteries dete- 
riorate rapidly when standing still and are expensive to re- 
place. For effective fire service it is necessary to have a 
set charging continuously, while for heavy grades it is not 
as certain as gasoline. On the other hand it is easier to 
operate and is certainly more reliable for starting away in 
response to an alarm. While still in the experimental 
stage, it is worth watching, for there is no saying what de- 
velopments may occur which will remove its present dis- 
abilities and place it beyond the sphere of the problema- 
tical. The intention of the writer is not to express a de- 
cided preference for any particular type, but rather to in- 
dicate the strong and weak points of apparatus, leaving 
individual chiefs to assess the merits or otherwise of the 
machines dealt with, and thus form their own conclu- 
sions. 

In operating water towers and extension ladders, that is 
in raising and lowering them, there are several devices, 
electrical, mechanical, spring and hydraulic, all of which 
have points in their favour. The electric motor can raise an 
extension ladder with rapidity and the spring is equally 
good, some even considering it more certain. Hydraulic 
power or springs can be employed in raising a water tower. 
As before emphasized, locality must govern choice and 
public money should not be lightly spent. In fact the best 
test is to consider whether, were the purchaser paying for 
the apparatus out of his own pocket, he would consider it 
wise to spend the money. 

In the foregoing a brief description has been given of 
the major pieces of motor apparatus, and it is now advis- 
able to consider their operation. Hose wagons and run- 
abouts possess no technical features, with the exception 
that they should be strongly built and with sufficient power 
to carry the loads placed upon them over rough paving 
and heavy gradients. But the fact should be appreciated 
that though a piece of apparatus may be seldom in motion, 
when it is needed it must travel like the wind. All depart- 



APPARATUS FOR FIRE-FIGHTING 325 

ments have recently shown a tendency to run the hose 
wagon, equipped with chemical tanks, ahead as a kind of 
scout. The writer thoroughly approves of this method. 
As has been frequently repeated, time is everything in 
fire-fighting, and a few seconds gained may prevent great 
loss of life and property. The fast moving wagon arrives 
on the scene before the heavier engine and attacks the 
fire with chemical lines, remembering in all cases to stretch 
two and a half inch lines from the nearest hydrants. On 
the arrival of the engine, connection is quickly made to 
the hydrants and preparations commenced to start water 
in these lines immediately, should the condition of the fire 
warrant such an operation. The old adage "Never send a 
boy on a man's errand" should be borne in mind, and there- 
fore never trust entirely to a chemical line. Although it 
may extinguish the fire and thereby decrease the fire loss, 
it is utterly useless should the outbreak assume great pro- 
portions, and under these conditions a good stream of 
water is an absolute requisite. 

In residential districts where the houses are detached, 
chemicals will extinguish many fires with the least possible 
loss, but their use should not be attemped in commercial 
buildings where great quantities of goods are stored, until 
science has given us a far more effective gas than is at 
present available. In employing a chemical stream it 
should be directed low, as it is not the quantity of liquid 
which extinguishes the fire, but the gas arising from it 
which does the work. As it is evident that, in order 
to get the best effect from chemical streams, the gas 
should be confined, such streams are of no avail in 
the open. Where a stream of water is used, the correct 
method is to strike the ceiling with the stream on en- 
tering a room, which distributes the water. Should the 
entire contents of a small room be involved the water 
is spread out like a fan over the whole area, when, as 
the writer's old mentor used to say, "A dash will put 
it out." 

The next points to be considered are engine and high 



326 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

pressure streams. As the homeopathic and the allopathic 
doctors always disagree about the strength of a dose of 
medicine, so there is always a difference of opinion amongst 
fire chiefs as to the size of nozzles to be used and the 
pressure required in delivering streams at fires. In the 
old days the volunteers christened their machines "The 
Niagara," "The Cataract," "The Deluge," names to 
denote overwhelming power, as it was the idea to drown 
everything in sight. Even today there is evidence in some 
quarters that this desire still remains. Nozzles 2, 3 and 
even 4 inches in diameter are sometimes used! Naturally 
common sense should govern the matter, for though there 
are instances where one powerful stream may save the day, 
there are others where several small streams are far more 
effective. 

Take as an illustration the case of the Equitable fire; 
the strong gale drove the fire toward Nassau and Cedar 
streets the latter only 27 feet wide and the former about 
45 and the flames raged along Cedir street for a dis- 
tance of 375 feet and on Nassau street for nearly 200 
feet. Here was a line of 575 feet to be protected in nar- 
row thoroughfares where the high buildings had windows 
of plain glass. One, two, three or even four powerful 
streams would not have had the desired effect. It required 
a perfect water curtain along the entire front and the only 
way to accomplish this was to cover the buildings with a 
deluge from small streams, supported by two-inch streams 
from the water towers to drive the fire back. Such an 
effective curtain resulted from this method that not a 
single pane of glass was broken in the windows of the 
exposed buildings in the streets mentioned. It was as 
though a heavy musketry fire from an entrenched army, 
backed by a few pieces of artillery, had checked the ad- 
vance of a storming party. That this was wonderfully 
successful may be gathered from the Underwriters' Re- 
port, which states, that it was effective to a remarkable 
degree, and the writer would add, was the only means 
under the conditions existing at this fire which would 




SEARCH LIGHTS. 



APPARATUS FOR FIRE-FIGHTING 327 

have accomplished the desired result. This is the homeo- 
pathic method. 

Now consider the allopathic side. To give an example; 
last autumn an explosion took place in a sulphur works 
built on a dock in Williamsburg, Borough of Brooklyn. 
A strong southwest wind was blowing, and directly across 
the street were situated the oil yards of the Standard Oil 
Company, while at a distance of only 45 or 50 feet were 
extensive hay sheds, one thousand feet in length. A more 
dangerous combination is difficult to conceive! A fourth 
alarm was immediately transmitted by the District Chief 
on his arrival, followed by a borough call which brought 
another third alarm assignment. On the writer's arrival 
he found a most dangerous fire confronting him. 

The entire building of the sulphur works was involved, 
the flames shooting a hundred feet into the air. The hay 
sheds had ignited and the flames were rolling over the 
oil tanks to leeward. Deputy Chief Langford, with eight 
engine companies and a fire boat, was assigned to the 
leeward position in the oil yards and six companies under 
Deputy Chief Lally were placed in the street between the 
hay sheds and the latter. 

Although the water supply was ample, the combined 
force of these fourteen companies using powerful streams 
was not sufficient to drive back the wave of fire which 
momentarily threatened to envelop the oil yards and bring 
destruction to life and property. 

The fire boat, Abram S. Hewitt, had worked her way 
in to within 75 feet from the head of that threatening 
and destructive sea of fire. She was operating about eight 
1 24-inch and ij^-inch streams. The order was given that 
all streams should be shut down with the exception of 
two i y* -inch, which were operating under Langford in 
the yards, and that a three-inch nozzle should be put on 
the large monitor on the top of the pilot house. The full 
force of the pumps was then thrown into the nozzle, giv- 
ing a pressure of 145 Ibs. and a discharge of more than 
3,000 gallons per minute. The effect of this was to crush 



328 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

the head of that fiery wave and roll it back and hold it, 
giving the men operating the smaller streams a chance to 
advance. Compare the two examples. In one a threaten- 
ing fire had spread over a great area; in the other a 
terrific wave of flame was concentrated within a narrow 
space. A cyclone in the first instance; a tornado in the 
second. 

So it will be seen that in fire-fighting both homeopathic 
and allopathic methods are required, but if the fire can 
be extinguished with a small stream a large one should 
never be employed. How best to judge the size of the 
dose the writer is unable to tell. As each doctor diagnoses 
his own case, so each Chief must make his own working 
diagram, and, like some physicians, many fire-fighters have 
better discernment and keener judgment than others, some- 
times born of greater experience, and sometimes more or 
less intuitive. All countries are looking for good men and 
paying liberal salaries, and each must study and fit himself 
for the ordeal. No maps or charts are available, the sur- 
roundings must be noted and decision must be prompt and 
effective. 

The intelligent operation of apparatus by members of 
fire-fighting forces is an absolute essential successfully to 
cope with their enemy. The direction of streams at a 
fire is almost akin to gun fire from a battleship. Shot 
and shell can be, and indeed very often are, wasted, due 
to defective gunnery; streams thrown into a building at an 
improper angle are useless when, by a little judgment on 
the part of the officer in charge, much more effective work 
could be accomplished. This is particularly true of water 
towers and turret pipes. In placing a tower in front of 
a building, a little quick thinking on the part of the officer 
in command of the apparatus would often make a great 
difference. To begin with, a tower should never be placed 
far to windward except under orders from a superior. 
Ninety-nine times in a hundred the fire will work to lee- 
ward, so the tower should be in a position whence the fire 
can be fought back from that side. The mast should be 



APPARATUS FOR FIRE-FIGHTING 329 

extended high enough to give the stream an arc which will 
enable it to strike the ceiling of a particular floor about 20 
to 30 feet inside the window. As in gunnery practice the 
best arc is about 40 degrees elevation, but as a tower 
stream is not directed at a target but must be operated over 
the entire front of a building, judgment should be used in 
its placing and elevation in the beginning. 

In connecting lines to a tower, deck pipe or turret pipe 
on a wagon, about one length 50 feet of extra hose 
should be allowed. This is to give the apparatus a certain 
degree of mobility, as it often becomes necessary to move 
a tower or a wagon, and should there be no spare line it 
cannot be accomplished. Officers ordered to connect to 
water towers or wagons should bear this in mind. Too 
much rigidity is undesirable, and by having 50 feet of 
range in front of burning building, much more effective 
work can be accomplished especially in these days when 
motor apparatus is so easy to move. 

While on this theme it may be wise to touch briefly on 
the size and pressure of streams. The use of a water 
tower, or of a wagon turret pipe, presupposes the neces- 
sity for water under high pressure. Some chiefs have 
contended that a higher pressure than 100 Ibs. at the 
nozzle is impracticable, saying that when the pressure goes 
over this nozzle velocity it is so high that the stream is 
torn to pieces (whipped into a foam) causing it to break 
and scatter a few feet from the nozzle. This contention 
is only partly true, for, admitting that the higher the 
nozzle velocity the greater the tendency of the stream to 
disintegrate, on the other hand the higher nozzle velocity 
gives a greater volume and a much heavier striking force. 
These latter are prime requisites in fire-fighting. A blow 
struck or a thrust delivered with moderate strength 
has not the same effect as a blow with good mus- 
cle behind it, and in big fires it is often the power of 
the blow which counts. The stream which strikes with 
force will knock out the fire as a prize fighter knocks out 
his opponent. The writer favors higher pressure when 



330 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

necessity demands, though this is again a matter of 
judgment. 

In the army and navy, range finders are employed to 
enable officers in charge of guns to sight properly and 
direct their fire. Fire-fighters operate under such condi- 
tions that many times they are unable to see even the 
buildings, much less the windows or openings through 
which the streams are to be directed. In such cases all 
must be left to judgment and experience. When a heavy 
body of fire is rolling out of a building the writer would 
use a nozzle pressure of from 100 to 150 pounds. This 
gives volume and that striking force, which, as already 
stated, are absolutely necessary in many instances. 

Before passing from the subject it may be well to give 
a rule by which men may be guided in placing apparatus of 
the type under consideration. Good firemen fight at close 
range, and it is seldom that the occasion arises which 
keeps them at a distance, but under such circumstances a 
stream will do effective work allowing one foot of distance 
for each pound of nozzle pressure up to 100 pounds. 
Above this point it is a little less, but it is useless to go 
further into the matter as the occasion should never arise 
when it is necessary to fight a fire at a greater distance than 
that of 100 feet. 

In some instances the actual distance covered by the 
stream is greater when the nozzle is at, on or near grade 
level. The point of delivery may be 50 feet above grade 
level, and those who care to amuse themselves and at the 
same time improve their knowledge, can use the old rule; 
the square root of the sum of the squares on the two 
sides of a right angled triangle is equal to that of the 
hypotenuse. The main point is to know the distance to 
which a certain pressure will deliver effective fire streams. 
Hydraulic engineers like J. F. Freeman and others give 
distances, always under settled weather conditions, but a 
fire chief cannot wait for a calm day, so the confronting 
conditions must be figured out. A little thought will 
make a most wonderful improvement and it will be found 



APPARATUS FOR FIRE-FIGHTING 331 

by experience that men can estimate within a few pounds 
of the exact pressure at a nozzle. This will be treated 
exhaustively in the appendix. 

In dealing with the effect of additional lines in the 
tower, deck or turret pipes it must be stated that, in 
most departments, the orders require a company stretch- 
ing to the tower, deck or turret pipes to lay in two lines. 
Now, if a two-inch nozzle is used on the tower mast, much 
better streams will be obtained by immediately adding 
another three-inch line. It may be assumed that a nozzle 
pressure of 100 Ibs. is required from a two-inch nozzle; 
this is equivalent to a discharge of 1,200 gallons of water 
per minute. In order to obtain this pressure, each of the 
first two lines would be delivering 600 gallons per minute, 
and the addition of the third line would cause this flow 
to be reduced to 400 gallons for each one. As the friction 
loss is equal to the square of the velocity, and as the 
velocity is governed by the flow, the result would be some- 
thing like this: 400X400=160,000. 600X600=360,000, 
or as 1 6 to 36. Therefore friction loss would be more than 
twice as great as in the first case. 

This takes the writer back to the source of supply, 
whether it be a fire engine, a high pressure pump or water 
under force of gravity which becomes the determining 
factor as to what that pressure should be. If it is decided 
to force 1,200 gallons per minute through two lines, the 
pressure must be higher at the pump than if the same 
quantity were forced through three lines, in order to give 
the same nozzle pressure. In the case of water delivered 
under high pressure by pump or force of gravity, where 
there is a predetermined pressure, the additional line gives 
a better flow, less friction loss and consequently a higher 
nozzle velocity. The chief officer must determine whether 
it is better to attach the additional line, thereby taking up 
the services of an engine, or to use the third opening in 
the hydrant to which a line might be connected for service 
at some other point, where it was badly needed. 

In this chapter the writer has had no thought of actually 



332 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

discussing fire strategy; all he has hoped to do has been 
to point out some of the situations which develop at fires, 
and to impress upon those responsible that their minds 
should act quickly and that all contingencies should be met 
with promptitude. 



CHAPTER XXIII 

TWO PLATOON SYSTEM 

ANY consideration of the factors governing fire-fighting 
would be incomplete were the personal equation neglected, 
in other words the status of the fireman in relation to the 
community as a whole. The foregoing pages have made 
it abundantly evident that he who wishes to follow the call- 
ing as a life's work must be possessed of qualities out of 
the common. Apart from pluck and physical endurance, 
he must be prepared to attack the subject from its scien- 
tific standpoint and to devote to it his undivided interest 
and attention, that is to say if he would rise superior to 
his volunteer predecessors. And it must never be forgotten 
that these latter brought unlimited enthusiasm to their self- 
imposed task, if nothing else. But in these days, fire-fight- 
ing has passed the stage of the dilettante ; it has grown into 
a serious science and as such has a right to demand that 
its votaries shall be experts in their own line and that 
the huge responsibilities of lives and property entrusted 
to their care shall be no haphazard proceeding, but the 
result of serious consideration and selection. Now latterly 
a feeling has sprung up, which roughly propounds the 
theory that the fireman should be the hired servant of 
the municipality, nothing more and nothing less. His en- 
gagement is to be of a temporary nature, bounded only 
by so many hours 7 work per diem for so much pay. He 
is to be considered, when not actually on duty, as free 
as the butcher, the baker and the candlestick-maker and 
from the moment when he leaves his fire station, what 
he does and how he does it is to be his own business and 

333 



334 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

no one else's. This is to all intents and purposes what 
the advocates of the "Two Platoon System" would have 
the public believe is to the advantage of the Fire De- 
partments the world over. For twelve hours the fireman 
is to be on duty, and for the other twelve he is to be a 
private citizen, free from all trammels and restrictions, 
which might tend to hamper his sacred liberty. It is a high 
sounding and truly attractive doctrine, only, having due re- 
gard for the efficiency of this most important of depart- 
ments, how can such a method be expected to yield satis- 
factory results? In France and Germany, the barrack 
system is worked no doubt to an extreme, which would be 
distasteful and unpopular in any country where conscrip- 
tion was not the general practice. There, the fireman is 
practically under military law, and the slightest breaches 
of discipline are punished with martial severity, whilst 
individual freedom is necessarily much curtailed. But 
there is no advantage in riding a hobby to death and both 
in England and in some cities in the United States, a via 
media has been evolved, different in detail but alike in 
essentials, which insures efficiency of service and disci- 
pline with the least possible inconvenience to those con- 
cerned. In England, the fireman is a municipal servant, 
he is provided with quarters whether married or single 
and is granted so much leave every year. In addition he 
receives free medical attention and certain allowances ac- 
cording to the town in which he happens to be serving. 
But all the time, when not absent with permission, he is 
available for duty, as is the soldier or the sailor. This 
appears a common-sense system of enabling a municipality 
to assess with some degree of certainty the probable fire 
risks it will be called upon to incur, should it either in- 
crease or decrease the fire department, while it can always 
count upon the services of its enlisted men. New York 
has gone further and allows its firemen to live at home, 
have their meals there and to spend their spare time in 
the society of their families, far removed from the noise 
and bustle of the average fire-station. In fact, the system 



TWO PLATOON SYSTEM 335 

evolved may be taken as one of encouragement to home 
life and happy surroundings, the antithesis of arbitrary 
militarism and the curtailing of the individual's freedom. 
Only the demands of the situation are such, that it is im- 
perative that at all times and seasons, the men of the de- 
partment, except when specially excused, should be 
available for instant duty. Now though comparisons may 
be odious, what alternative system is advocated by the 
upholders of the two platoon theory? For twelve hours 
one watch or division of men is to be employed, their 
places to be taken by another group of similar strength. 
And supposing some great conflagration occurs, demand- 
ing the combined energies of the entire department, what 
then? Presumably messengers would have to be employed 
to whip up the contingent off duty, who from their stand- 
ing would be within their rights in demanding "overtime," 
who perhaps could not be found and if found might demur 
to answering a call which was not obligatory, and who from 
their anomalous position might be forgiven if they imported 
an opera bouffe touch into subsequent proceedings and 
kept a fire burning so long as might suit the financial 
status of those principally concerned. In addition what 
guarantee would be forthcoming that the night shift would 
arrive in the best of conditions to carry out arduous work, 
if called upon so to do. It has been proved from ex- 
periments made along these lines that it is by no means 
uncommon for the so-called fireman to practise his trade 
as bartender or undertaker all day and then turn up at 
the station in the evening for fire duty, in order to make a 
little "extra." It goes without saying that that species of 
extra time is costly alike to human life and property and 
that a fire department built upon such principles is indeed 
founded upon sand. The truth of the whole matter would 
appear to be, in the opinion of the writer, that amongst 
the younger generation there is a strong aversion to dis- 
cipline, even of the broadest kind, which interferes not at 
all with the liberty of the subject and is only ordained 
that some systematization of duty and responsibility may 



336 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

result. Further, it is of paramount importance in these 
days of labour unrest, that any body so vitally essential 
to the welfare of the public at large should be safeguarded 
from any interference from labour organization outside it- 
self. Once the Department becomes analogous with street 
railways or drygoods stores for its labour supply, then a 
long farewell may be said to any continuity of action, 
of policy, of training, and of general organization. Men 
will come and go at will, bearing in mind that their status 
is no different from that of any other daily worker, esprit 
de corps a vital force in fire-fighting will vanish, and in 
place will be instituted a body, devoid of any other consid- 
eration than that of making that little bit "extra." An in- 
spiring ideal, in truth. 




RESUSCITATING FIREMEN OVERCOME BY SMOKE. 



CHAPTER XXIV 

UNDERWRITERS AND SALVAGE CORPS 

ALTHOUGH not actually connected by organization with 
the Fire Department, at least in the United States and 
England, the Salvage Corps is none the less an important 
essential in the whole scheme, and as such demands some 
attention in a volume of this kind. The business of the 
fire-fighter is, as his name indicates, to fight fires; the 
saving of property and merchandise from the effects of 
water is the particular field of the Salvage Corps, and 
thus it is that separate organizations have been evolved for 
this express purpose. 

In New York this work is officially recognized and 
supported by all the insurance companies doing business 
in the city, supreme executive control at fires being vested 
in the officer in charge of the fire-fighters. In fact, the 
Salvage Corps might not inaptly be compared with the 
medical and nursing branch of an army. A battle occurs, 
and obviously the combatants have no time to look after 
the wounded or to succour the dying. Their business is 
first and foremost the crumpling up and the defeat of 
their antagonist, and until that is accomplished all other 
considerations are relegated to the background. But hu- 
manity demands that the stricken shall be saved if possible 
and that suffering shall be alleviated; hence the presence 
of a large staff of doctors and nurses who otherwise 
have no connection with the events of the moment. They 
are distinct from the fighters, but admittedly necessary to 
them. Further, of course, they are under the supreme 
authority of the general commanding; anything in the 

337 



338 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

nature of divided control would be fatal alike to all con- 
cerned. 

This brief explanation is rendered necessary since the 
functions and position of those operating in salvage corps 
is too little understood, and in fact their present status of 
a semi-independent entity is anomalous and not in the 
best interests of all parties. Now who are the persons 
involved? Firstly, property owners themselves who, 
whether insured or no, are at least presumed to desire as 
little destruction wrought to their goods as is possible, 
which can often be accomplished by covering up, wiping 
down and pumping out. Secondly, the insurance compan- 
ies, since, with this assistance, they may save the wastage 
of a complete loss and at any rate realize a small propor- 
tion of the risks involved. Hence it is that a regularly 
paid corps of professional salvage men is maintained at 
the expense of these companies in some of the great towns 
of America and in London, those in the United States 
being generally known as "Fire Patrols." 

The strength of the New York corps consists of 38 
officers and 190 men, divided into ten patrols. The sal- 
vage wagons in service are of the usual type carrying 
such apparatus as covers, door openers, axes, shovels, 
squeegees, and other equipment especially suitable to their 
needs. During the last year for which figures are available 
8,415 outbreaks were attended, the most calls in any one 
month being 802 in December. In that month the dura- 
tion or service amounted to 755 hours, while 3,531 covers 
were spread and 136 roof covers placed in position. 
Chicago maintains a corps of eight companies consisting 
of 71 permanent, and 33 auxiliary, men, the work accom- 
plished, having due regard to the territory involved, being 
efficient. 

Incidentally, annual reports are issued giving statistics 
anent the forces together with figures of the values they 
have protected, which, of course, is as it should be, and is 
only mentioned as a comparison with the extraordinary 
anachronistic condition of affairs in London. Here is the 



UNDERWRITERS AND SALVAGE CORPS 339 

largest city in the world with property values almost beyond 
estimate. It is asserted that the "per capita" loss is insig- 
nificant compared with that of American cities, but at the 
same time it would be imagined that salvage service would 
be carried out upon certain well established lines. Yet, as 
a matter of fact, the London Salvage Corps, to give it its 
official title, is a purely private organization, equipped and 
supported by certain of those insurance companies under- 
writing fire risks. The word "certain" is used advisedly, 
since not all those dealing in the local fire risks subscribe. 
Hence it is a purely private undertaking, and, as such, 
responsible to no public body, except in the same degree 
as a private individual. No annual report is published, 
except to those directly concerned, the strength of the 
corps in officers and men is not officially issued, and any 
statistics of property values^ percentage of losses, etc., if 
tabulated at all, are certainly not forthcoming from this 
body, at present benignly commanded by Colonel Fox. 
Of the annual report, such as it is, the following excerpt 
from a letter speaks for itself: ' ... at the end of the 
year a brief confidential statement is given out to the 
members, which statement is not illuminating in details." 
In other large English cities, salvage arrangements are al- 
together lacking, as is also the case in the smaller Ameri- 
can centres of population. The reason for this is not far 
to seek. If the insurance companies have to pay the piper 
they cannot be expected to establish in communities with 
minor property values, organizations which, on the face of 
it, must be costly experiments. 

Hence, two clauses of objection may be framed upon 
the existing state of affairs, which cast no slur upon those 
intimately concerned but are simply concomitants of an 
archaic system. Firstly, no matter how cordial the rela- 
tionship existing between the fighting force and the sal- 
vage corps, and no matter how rigorously it is insisted 
that the Chief is in supreme control at an outbreak, 
with the best intentions in the world, on occasion, misunder- 
standings are bound to arise which, if not hazardous, are 



340 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

at least unpleasant, unnecessary and not in the best interests 
of discipline. There is always the natural tendency for 
the subordinate to resent taking orders from any other 
than his superior officer, and though the Chief and 
his aides may be recognized by the non-combatant forces 
as in executive command, at a large fire neither the chief 
nor his staff can be everywhere, and orders have to be 
transmitted which, to comply with the hard and fast eti- 
quette of the situation, would be cumbersome and 
impossible. Therefore it would appear a common sense 
policy to arrange some form of amalgamation. This 
should offer no insuperable difficulty, as some method of 
meeting the additional cost could be evolved in consultation 
with the insurance companies. 

Which introduces the second clause. 

As at present arranged the maintenance constitutes a 
severe tax upon those concerned, and there is no doubt 
that better administration would result from the union. 
In addition, there is no reason why the individual property 
owner should not bear his share of the costs involved in 
the saving of his goods from unnecessary damage by 
water, consequent upon fighting a fire. Of course it may 
be argued that if he is already insured, he is paying twice, 
but the adjustment of premiums under such circumstances 
would be a matter of no great moment. 

Certainly, in New York and in America generally, there 
is this to be said for the salvage corps, namely, that they 
are responsible bodies maintained by statute and thus under 
the supervision of recognized authorities. In England, 
however, there appears to be a total absence of organized 
departmental control, and the relationship existing between 
the London County Council, which supports the London 
Fire Brigade, and the London Salvage Corps, which is 
as much a private concern as William Whitely or John 
Wanamaker, is purely dependent upon the good will of 
the former. In fact, to go a step further it is hard to 
see what means could be adopted if the County Council 
vetoed the presence of the salvage corps at fires. Of 



UNDERWRITERS AND SALVAGE CORPS 341 

course such an occasion would never arise, only, in mar- 
shaling fire forces, as in marshaling the array of an army, 
nothing should be left to chance, nothing should be hap- 
hazard and all contingencies should be foreguarded. And 
since the general commands a fighting machine composed 
of combatants and civil units, the admiral a personnel, a 
proportion of whom are either clerks or semi-laymen, so 
should a fire-fighter and his non-combatant ally serve under 
one flag, recognize one chief and be brothers in a common 
cause. There is no good reason why this should not be 
accomplished, and that till now it has not been con- 
summated has been due largely to the apathy of those in 
responsible control. Any general consideration of the 
problems connected with fire insurance is quite beyond the 
scope of this volume. At the same time, however, it may 
be of interest to quote certain comparative data and, in 
addition, the writer is happy to give prominence to the 
good work being accomplished by underwriters in the 
United States. 

It is a common failure in America, generally to con- 
demn certain social factors as being responsible for this, 
that or the other occurrence. The acute observer will have 
noticed that under no circumstances is the individual unit 
ever responsible for the sequence of events; come murder, 
rapine, pillage or earthquake it is always that inconsiderate 
"somebody else" corporate or incorporate, who is to blame. 
Never under any circumstances, has that wonderful in- 
dividual unit been in error. And the same might appositely 
be said of the press. Clever writers with brilliant pens 
overflowing with ink, between eleven o'clock at night and 
two in the morning, will, with the utmost complaisance 
label corporations or persons in a genial way as "rogues," 
"vagabonds" or "villains," excepting always that their 
readers will take their remarks with that proverbial grain 
of salt which is necessary to a true appreciation of the 
journalistic cuisine. Unfortunately, the average reader 
is stolid, unsuspicious and indiscriminating. He rarely sees 
beyond his nose, he never reads between the lines and he 



342 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

is as a child in the complicated moves in the game of 
publicity and policy pursued by many. Which remarks 
may be accepted for what they are worth. Few acquainted 
with public life will honestly contra vert them, and for the 
rest, their opinion is of equal value too, though of far less 
weight than that of the writers mentioned. Thus it is, 
that a compliment must be paid to the National Board of 
Fire Underwriters, which, in the United States, is doing 
a great deal toward the education of the general public 
in the matter of fire risks. 

The following excerpt taken from the address of an 
officer of the Northern Assurance Company of London, 
is worthy of quotation: "The phenomenal growth of 
this country (the United States), of which all its citizens 
are proud, has been accompanied by the creation of enor- 
mous commercial and manufacturing establishments, great 
concentration of property values, and congested areas in 
our large cities, each containing hundreds of millions of 
dollars of values subject to destruction by fire. This ex- 
traordinary commercial and manufacturing growth makes 
necessary a corresponding increase in credits. To meet 
this need for larger credits the banks have been made larger 
and are being made larger all the time. One of the most 
important and essential foundations of credit is fire insur- 
ance. This is now so well understood that it is unneces- 
sary to dilate upon it. As the great growth in business 
requires a corresponding increase in credits which in turn 
makes necessary larger banking facilities, so the concentra- 
tion of values all over the country in individual businesses 
and in congested city centres makes it necessary that fire 
insurance companies should have large and increasing 
reserves and loss paying abilities. Under a general system 
of State-made rates, fire insurance companies would un- 
doubtedly find themselves unable to build up large reserves 
and there would be no inducement to make them large by 
capitalization. The welfare of the country requires that 
fire insurance companies should have the opportunity to 
create large reserves with which to meet large conflagration 




JIBE-FIGHTING PRACTICE. 



UNDERWRITERS AND SALVAGE CORPS 343 

losses such as have several times occurred and must be 
expected to occur again. Inability to meet such crises 
would cause serious and perhaps dangerous panics. The 
average underwriting profit made by all the companies 
has been paltry, as will hereafter appear, and furnishes no 
justification for State Rating Board laws on the ground 
of excessive profits. The smallness of the average under- 
writing profit shows that the dividends to stockholders 
have been paid from interest and dividends from invest- 
ments, and also that reserves have been augmented from 
the same sources. It is, therefore, apparent that excessive 
rates have not been charged and the proceeds distributed 
to stockholders." The above may be an "ex-parte" state- 
ment, but on the face of it, it contains a thorough realiza- 
tion of the condition of the fire risks in America. 

Time and again it is insisted by the underwriters that it 
is the conflagration hazard which renders any approach to 
systematic or scientific underwriting practically impossi- 
ble. If, as in Vienna, it were feasible to confine every 
fire to the building in which it originated, which can obvi- 
ously be accomplished when houses are constructed upon 
a detached system, then the problem would be simplified. 
If, as in Germany, a man having a fire on his premises is 
held guilty of misdemeanor until he proves that its incep- 
tion was beyond his control, or if, as is operative in France, 
a man having a fire extending beyond his own premises 
were held financially responsible, then again the problem 
would be simplified. But, probably, the sanest and most 
hopeful method of combating the huge fire losses in the, 
United States is by the gradual instruction of the masses 
to a proper realization of fire control and what it means. 
To this end the National Board of Fire Underwriters has 
most distinctly added its quota of assistance by the publi- 
cation of useful brochures and by the issuance of bulletins 
apropos to certain occasions when fires most commonly 
occur such as Christmas Day with its Christmas trees and 
candles, and Independence Day (July 4th) with its in- 
discriminate use of fireworks. No one, however partizan, 



344 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

can deny that this is useful work and of the greatest 
public benefit. Annually the fire loss in the United States 
may be roughly assessed at $250,000,000 or 59,999,999 
pounds sterling. This is naturally only a broad esti- 
mate, for to be irritatingly accurate the estimated loss 
for 1911 was $217,000,000, though in 1906 it was over 
$500,000,000, the latter figure, to be sure, due to the San 
Francisco disaster. But taking even $200,000,000 as the 
annual wastage, it would be profoundly interesting to 
know how much of that colossal total was due to the care- 
lessness of the individual. It is beyond the ken of man 
how to arrive at such figures, but the writer can testify 
from personal experience, and has emphasized again and 
again in the preceding pages, that the human element plays 
a preponderating part in providing work for the fire- 
fighter. 

There is always something fascinating in picturing in 
the mind's eye all the wonderful things which might be, 
were such and such a factor eliminated from the social 
fabric. The pacifist who dreams of disarmament and in- 
ternational peace is wont to enlarge upon what the reduc- 
tion of the Army and Navy estimates would mean to the 
masses. A secretary of the Treasury, or Chancellor of 
the Exchequer with a hundred million dollars unallo- 
cated to any particular purpose in these dreary days is as 
rare as the "Dodo," in fact he is non-existent, but sup- 
posing some such amazing bouleversement of conditions 
did occur. It is only possible to surmise how that money 
might be spent for the good of the community. It appears 
on the face of it so fantastic, so irrelevant to the issues 
of the moment and so far removed from practical politics. 
And yet implant in the individual the fundamental fea- 
tures of the dangers of fire and of the easiness of those 
ordinary precautions which in themselves are simple to 
the verge of puerility, but in the aggregate count for so 
much, then there might be a reasonable chance of the 
materialization of that seemingly far-fetched dream. 

Hence, all means to that end are to be encouraged, and 



UNDERWRITERS AND SALVAGE CORPS 345 

the work being accomplished by the National Board of 
Underwriters is deserving of more than passing praise on 
that score. For, that there is need of some guidance, can 
be gleaned from the following figures, which, making 
every allowance for climatic extremes, as shown, a fruitful 
source of fires, and constructive encouragement to the 
flames in the shape of the employment of wood as building 
material, still evidence a remarkable gulf between 
fire risks in Europe and the United States. Thus, whereas 
the "per capita" loss in the United States for the year 
1911 was $2.62, for England it averaged only 53c, 
for France 8 ic, for Germany 2ic, and for Russia only 
8c. These figures are not absolutely conclusive, since they 
are based upon the reports sent in from centres of popula- 
tion and no account can well be taken of the country in 
sparsely populated districts. But as regards the United 
States, it may be remarked that the 298 cities upon which 
the average is framed, represent a population of 31,000,000 
people, among whom there is "fire protection." In no 
foreign city does the "per capita" loss approach five dol- 
lars (one pound), though, excluding conflagrations, 32 
cities in the United States surpass that figure. The highest 
fire loss in England, curiously enough, was in the ancient 
city of York, which, with a population of only 82,000 
shows a "per capita" loss of $2.73 (n/ ), which com- 
pares unfavorably with the town of Yonkers, near New 
York, with the same population and a "per capita" loss of 
$1.73. For London the "per capita" loss was 540 based 
upon a population of seven and a quarter million people, 
which evidently included its suburbs and not the county 
proper. The "per capita" loss in Paris was 6oc, for Ham- 
burg only i8c, for St. Petersburg 93c, for Moscow $1.46 
exemplifying excellently the rise in loss occasioned by 
extremes of climate and wooden buildings while the 
city of Vancouver heads the list with $2.61. 

These are statistics which cannot fail to provide food 
for the thoughtful. For fire wastage is a literal translation 
of the phrase commonly used to emphasize the extravagance 



346 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

of the individual, "burning money." Finding money for 
the provision of armaments, which may never be used, is 
often decried as hideous waste, though there is something 
tangible to show for the expenditure, what then can be 
said in defence of a loss to every man, woman and child 
in the United States of over two dollars per annum, with 
a visible result only of charred ruins and possible suffering? 



CHAPTER XXV 

CONCLUSION 

IT is the experience of most writers on themes peculiarly 
their own, that when the time comes to surrender the pen, 
only then do they realize how much more should have been 
added to the material collected, how much more clearly cer- 
tain details might have been explained and how altogether 
inadequate is the sum total of their labours. And so it is 
as regards this work. The term "fire-fighting" possesses 
such an immense significance that it would require many 
portly tomes to deal exhaustively with all its intricate prob- 
lems. For as fast as one offshoot receives attention, an- 
other crops up hydra-like and it becomes a question of seri- 
ous consideration what proportion of notice, if any, should 
be allotted to many subsidiary branches of the main theme. 
Thus it is only feasible by using judgment to scrape the 
surface of the vast field of investigation, and, by as skilful 
handling as may be to sow the seeds of fresh thought in 
the public mind, which in time may germinate and bring 
forth a rich harvest of action. This indeed has been the 
chief inspiration of this volume. Those interested scien- 
tifically will, it is hoped, have found the wherewithal to 
whet their appetite for further research and there is no 
doubt that there are problems without number awaiting 
the probe of the investigator in the domain of "fire con- 
trol," problems which demand the maximum of mental 
efficiency, patience and determination. But the larger por- 
tion of the reading public demand the note of human in- 
terest and as far as lay within the scope of the material, 
this has been supplied, for it is a trite commonplace, that 

347 



348 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

to arouse enthusiasm or a proper realization of the true 
inwardness of any subject, appeal must be made to the 
senses. And it appears of paramount importance to the 
writer that "the man in the street" should be aroused from 
the lethargy he habitually displays over questions apper- 
taining to fires and their prevention. Terrible lessons are 
taught, and as speedily forgotten, not because the individual 
is unable to grasp the significance of the occurrences, but 
rather because the teachers are intangible elemental forces 
which cause disaster and await the skill of the -human in- 
structor to amplify and explain their lessons. And it may 
be said that until recently such instructors were sadly lack- 
ing. 

In the first place the search after wealth is so keen 
now-a-days and monopolizes attention to such an extent, 
that occupations promising only a moderate financial suffi- 
ciency are to a certain degree shunned by the enterprising 
and the ambitious with the result that those enlisting in 
their ranks are often devoid of that enthusiasm, the mag- 
netism of which is so overwhelming that it communicates 
itself to others and sweeps into its net the youth and strength 
of a nation. With such material, what can be expected? 
Any individual adopting a calling merely as a means to 
obtaining the bare wherewithal to exist rarely earns his 
wage. His duties are rendered just so efficiently as to 
escape censure and no more. Now, without any savor of 
supreme conceit, the writer hazards the statement that for 
a change towards better things the fire departments in the 
United States are responsible. In the first place the mag- 
nitude of the risks involved has impressed itself upon the 
thinking portion of the community and it has at length 
been realized that if an army and navy are necessary ad- 
juncts to the safety of the Republic, then most assuredly 
the organization of a first-class fire-fighting force is neces- 
sary for the safety of the homes of the people. And that 
is the chief factor in the situation; financial losses may 
be huge, but they will not appeal to the heart of a com- 
munity to the extent of the death of one child by the flames. 



CONCLUSION 349 

To deal seriatim with the crucial points of each chapter in 
the foregoing pages is out of place in this conclusion, since 
if each in turn has not been sufficiently conclusive then the 
carpenter in this instance can not blame his tools, but 
himself. However, it may have been noticed that on occa- 
sion, comparisons, those most odious of things, have been 
instituted, while criticism has seldom been far distant when 
dealing with foreign departments. It almost seems super- 
fluous to state that whatever has been penned has been ac- 
tuated by no carping spirit, but rather to bring out some 
obscure point or to emphasize some necessary moral. If 
every fire department was organized on precisely similar 
lines, then assuredly the fire fiend would play more havoc 
than it habitually does, since in fire-fighting as in other 
spheres of life, one man's meat is another's poison, and 
most assuredly what will suit the requirements of one local- 
ity will most hopelessly fail in another. Further, criticism 
is a life-giving sap to any industry or profession, or, for 
that matter, to any human enterprise. Devoid of this 
spur, achievement would quickly cease from sheer in- 
anition, and inasmuch as trees from time to time need 
pruning for their better growth, he would be a sorry gar- 
dener who hesitated over the task, lest perchance he might 
injure some branch or offshoot. Hence the writer hopes 
that all his remarks will be accepted with the same good 
nature as that with which they are offered. For there is 
need today for cohesion and mutual support amongst those, 
who have made, and are making, of fire-fighting, their life's 
work. This applies to all countries without exception, 
though there may be some slight difference in usage and or- 
ganization. It is a peculiar reflection on human character 
and not altogether a pleasant one, that recognition of ser- 
vices rendered is too often overlooked, unless there is an 
accompaniment of glittering uniforms and the blare of 
many bands. 

Stand in the limelight, make use of every chan- 
nel whereby publicity may be gained and ipso facto 
the end may be attained! From mouth to mouth 



350 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

spreads this spurious fame ; municipalities recognize it and 
governments decorate for it. Now those in the fire-fighting 
profession, though discounting the hollow adulation of the 
ignorant and assessing at its proper worth an evanescent 
popularity which is of no permanent value, may be for- 
given if at moments they yearn for some sincere acknowl- 
edgment from those whose lives and property they day 
by day protect. Of course, it may be argued by some that 
they are paid for their services, which is all they should 
expect, but there are equally those who will query if their 
wages are equivalent to a daily risk of life and limb, un- 
known even to the professional fighter, the soldier and 
the sailor. As a matter of history, probably every fireman 
in every fire brigade in the world is only too ready and 
too willing to go to any extremity in order to save a hu- 
man life. Surely it is not pleading for too much, if then 
there may be some sympathetic recognition of the fact, 
without the aid of brass bands and cheap publicity. 

Of course, the press agent, that questionable offshoot of 
modern journalism, will accomplish wonders. And be it 
added, that, though not blessed too liberally with this world's 
goods, there are those who regard their dignity as above 
such methods of currying renown. This is particularly 
written anent fire- fighters of every rank and nationality. 
They do their work and if a grateful community is too 
busy or too engrossed with its own affairs to mind their 
deeds, their sacrifices or their welfare, then they accept 
the situation, though they may be forgiven if at moments 
it does seem to them a little callous, a little unfair and not 
altogether considerate. Reading an English newspaper the 
other day the writer came across a story of simple heroism, 
which he may be pardoned for reproducing with some de- 
tail. It is by no means an uncommon occurrence, it pos- 
sesses no limelight effect and the surroundings of the event 
by no possible stretch of the imagination could be described 
as exhilarating or of a nature to inspire desperate courage. 
Rather are all the facts the reverse of these, but the nar- 
rative exemplifies the silent heroism which is no monopoly 



CONCLUSION 351 

of any fire department in any country, but is rather the 
heritage of precedent handed down from time immemorial 
and which carries with it that glorious superscription, "for 
a greater thing can no man do than that he lay down his 
life for another." The excerpt is given practically word 
for word. "That heroism is by no means confined to the 
battlefield or to the wild corners of the world's surface 
was exemplified once again by what happened in London 
on Tuesday, when the gallantry and cheerful self-sacrifice 
of the men of the London Fire Brigade was displayed. 
Two of them lost their lives in a splendid attempt to res- 
cue a number of workmen overtaken in a rush of poisonous 
sewer gas under the road in Pembridge Street, Netting Hill. 
The men were employees of the Kensington Corporation. 
One of them was suffocated before he could be reached 
and four of his comrades came within an ace of suffering 
the same terrible fate. They were all struck down un- 
conscious before they could be hauled out. ... A dan- 
gerous and threatening leakage of gas was the cause of the 
trouble. This was reported to the Kensington authorities 
some time before noon and five sewer men were immedi- 
ately despatched to locate it. Dressed in their heavy uni- 
form and armed with safety lamps, they descended the 
man-hole in Pembridge Street to search for the source of 
the trouble, leaving as is customary a mate on sentry above 
ground. They had not been down long before one of the 
men reappeared .at the top of the man-hole livid and gasp- 
ing for breath. He was only able to gasp out that his mates 
were "knocked over" by the suffocating fumes before he 
collapsed on the pavement. A message was immediately 
sent to the fire brigade station and a large crowd assem- 
bled as the firemen dashed up from Bayswater, Netting 
Hill, Kensington, Euston and other stations. There were 
scenes of great excitement as the men, with their smoke 
helmets adjusted, disappeared one after the other into the 
man-hole. Amid rousing cheers three men were brought 
up livid, gasping and only just alive. It was known that 
one man, Parry, was still somewhere down there in that 



352 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

horrible atmosphere and the most desperate efforts were 
made to get to him. Fireman after fireman went down 
only to be dragged back exhausted after a futile effort to 
reach the entombed victim. They must have been pretty 
sure that by this time he was dead, but that made no dif- 
ference. Dead or alive, it was their duty to get this man 
out and they stuck to their task with splendid heroism. The 
fatal tunnel was very narrow, at no part higher than three 
feet nine inches. Parry was a man of considerable bulk 
and it was thought that he had become wedged. The 
poison down below was worse and far more penetrating 
than the smoke of an ordinary fire, but the firemen cheer- 
fully took the risk. All the afternoon the gruesome search 
went on and at half past four the anxious watchers at 
the top were signalled to haul up one of the firemen. He 
was dragged out nerveless and dreadfully pallid, and though 
he was treated on the spot by Dr. Kennedy it was too late. 
Half an hour later another was hauled up the narrow iron 
ladder and laid gently on a tarpaulin. He was found to 
be past all human aid, and the lookers-on bared their heads 
as the body was placed on a motor engine and taken to 
the mortuary. Traffic was diverted for many hours, the 
work of rescue being followed with breathless interest by a 
silent awe-struck crowd." It might be well added that the 
names of these two self-sacrificing heroes were William 
McClaren and R. Bibby. Now the object in having given 
these details in extenso is to emphasize as well as the 
ability of the writer will allow, the daily risks of the fire- 
fighter, often, as in this case, devoid of that supreme ex- 
citement which prompts many a deed of "derring do" upon 
the battlefields. And for those who accomplish the latter 
there are the thanks of a grateful country, or, at least, that 
is the official phraseology. At all events there is recognition 
of sorts not the least mark being the esteem in which 
those comprising the fighting forces are naturally held. 

There is nothing to be gained by further following the 
line of thought. It has ever been so and unless some vast 
change sweeps over nations and peoples, it will ever remain 



CONCLUSION 353 

so. The student in his closet, the chemist in his laboratory, 
the surgeon in his consulting room and the engineer in his 
workshop, all may devise some great benefit for humanity, 
but if they expect earthly reward they most assuredly are 
mistaken. They must look elsewhere for that, for they 
have no trumpet blowers and the intelligence of the in- 
dividual as a rule does not stray beyond the pages of his 
favorite paper, which formulates his ideas, prearranges his 
opinions and supplies him with arguments along almost au- 
tomatic lines. Hence it is as well that all connected with 
the fire-fighting profession should leave notoriety to others 
to whom it is as the breath of life and who find solace in 
well turned laudatory phrases rather than in a quiet con- 
viction that they have done their best. The student of 
history must sometimes wonder how men of the stamp of 
Lincoln, Washington, Benbow, Burke, Wellington, and 
of course that immortal hero, Nelson, would have 
thought of the brass brand, press agent, limelight form 
of publicity, which today is so often regarded as the hall 
mark of meritorious service. However, the mole, if it 
works unseen, accomplishes a deal of tunnelling as is 
eventually ascertained, and the fire corps of the world 
though the sphere of their usefulness may not be readily 
appreciated, can afford to await developments. 

There is, however, springing up in many quarters a proper 
realization of what fire risks actually are, and to that end 
private organizations are being instituted for the scientific 
and careful study of the problems involved. This in 
itself is a healthy sign, while annual fire conventions, of 
which one is to be held in New York this year, do a great 
deal towards advancing the interests of the fire- fighter and 
arousing the attention of the public in his career. And, 
in addition, since a rope is made of many strands, these con- 
ventions assist towards international friendship and a bet- 
ter comprehension of national characteristics. There is 
a talk of international arbitration in the air, reduction 
of armaments and the submission of points of difference 
to referees. Hence every action which tends towards amity 



354 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

between nations is to be commended, and what more natural 
than that the united enemies of a common foe, the allied 
forces of intelligent and scientific action against, not a 
national but an universal peril should meet from time to 
time to suggest and adopt the most comprehensive means of 
checking the same. And such united action of human 
fighters against an elemental antagonist will, it is devoutly 
to be hoped, tend towards the elimination of the national 
fighter; not because the latter is unnecessary to the life of 
a nation as at present constituted, but rather because peace 
is the greatest of blessings and will bring in its train scien- 
tific development along the most useful and beneficial of 
lines to the common weal. 

To the youth of all nations, the writer would make the 
following appeal. The career of the fire-fighter is one of 
the most enthralling that the mind of man can conceive and 
in its present stage of development it promises a remarkable 
field for the enterprising and enthusiastic. It has been 
shown that the days when the fireman was merely an 
automaton using a pail of water and a hatchet, when dis- 
cretion and intelligence were useless owing to the undevel- 
oped state of the science and when any unskilled labourer 
could accomplish all that was required, are gone forever. 
In place is a calling which is emerging from its chrysalis 
of obscurity to take its proper position amongst the recog- 
nized and esteemed professions of the world. 

While, as has been pointed out in the preceding pages, it 
does not offer the financial returns or popular recognition 
attached to other occupations, it does promise a sufficiency. 
If followed with determination, positions of responsi- 
bility are within reach, and what the future holds for the 
"fireman" no one can foresee. More unlikely things have 
occurred in the evolution of society than the formation of 
a national force of firemen, paid and recruited by the gov- 
ernment and having in their charge the fire risks of the 
community as a whole, worthy successors of the soldier 
and the sailor, if that time ever arrives when the sword 
shall be laid aside for the ploughshare. And who shall 



CONCLUSION 355 

say that it will not! Which brings the writer to the end 
of his labours. 

The day is closing in and the lights are beginning to 
twinkle across the harbour of New York, as though beckon- 
ing to the wanderer to lay aside the cares of the moment 
and find rest and safety within their embrace. And some- 
how there steals across the evening air a vague feeling of 
sadness, the consciousness that many hands generously ex- 
tended in the past as tokens of friendship and guerdons 
for courage will never again be clasped; that the enemy, 
"fire," has reaped a rich harvest, and that in dealing in pen 
and ink with the antagonist of a lifetime, in the words of 
that great empire builder, Cecil Rhodes, there has been 
"so much to do, so little done." But none the less, from 
the writer's eyrie overlooking the restless Hudson, bearing 
upon its broad bosom the commerce of the seven seas, he 
holds out his hand in greeting to the new recruit, in friend- 
ship to the active rank and file and in congratulation to the 
veteran fire-fighters the world over; in all climes, in all 
cities, in all countries, the greatest brotherhood of the world 
for the common weal. 



(APPENDIX) 

PRACTICAL TESTS FOR FIRE ENGINES 

IT is the purpose of this appendix to set forth convenient 
and practical methods of making fire engine tests which 
will show the physical condition of engines, their capacity 
for delivering water at a reasonable pressure and the ability 
of the operating crews. The method described has been in 
use for a number of years and has been found practical, 
exact and of great value. Although methods similar to that 
described below are in use in some departments, the char- 
acter of tests made in many cities, and especially those for 
acceptance, are usually more spectacular than exact. The 
throwing of a stream over a church spire, city hall or court 
house does not necessarily show that the engine is capable 
of delivering its full rated capacity at a proper working 
pressure. 

Investigation has shown that where regular and sys- 
tematic tests of engines are not made, even in well man- 
aged fire departments, defects often exist which may con- 
tinue unsuspected for considerable periods and become 
manifest under the stress of a large fire, where the engine 
is called upon to deliver its full capacity under suitable 
working pressures. Furthermore, regular tests are a most 
valuable drill for engine crews, for in only a few depart- 
ments do they receive sufficient training in operating en- 
gines to capacity. The breakdown of an engine at a fire or 
the inability of the crew to operate it to capacity may be the 
direct cause of confusion and needless loss of property 
and perhaps of life, to the discredit of the department. 

Contracts for new fire engines usually contain guaran- 
tees that the engine will deliver a certain quantity of water, 

357 



358 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

but often do not specify the pressure at which it is to be 
delivered, nor provide for any definite tests which will 
accurately determine whether the engine has fulfilled the 
guarantee; or, in other words, if the department is getting 
what it is paying for. In several cities, engines are re- 
quired to fill large measured tanks in a specified time, but 
this is a cumbersome method at best, and such tanks are 
frequently unavailable ; this usually gives no definite results 
as to pressure obtained and power developed. 

STEAM FIRE ENGINE 

A PRACTICAL test should show, with fair accuracy, the 
condition of both water and steam ends of pumps and the 
condition of the boiler; determine the amount of water 
which the engine will pump at a reasonable working pres- 
sure, such as would be required when operating at a large 
fire; demonstrate the ability of the engine to draft water, 
whether the pumps and waterways are tight under high 
pressures and steam valves are properly set, and whether the 
coal used is quick steaming and free from objectionable im- 
purities. In addition, the test should be of such a character 
as to approach the working condition at a serious fire where 
the full capacity of the engine would be required, and at the 
same time be easily understood. The following tests are 
intended to bring out all of these points. 

The displacement test indicates very closely the actual 
condition of the pumps as a whole and, in conjunction with 
the high pressure and valve tests, the condition of the 
plungers, pump valves, packing, etc. The high pressure 
test, in connection with the results obtained from the ca- 
pacity test, indicates the setting of steam valves and con- 
dition of steam cylinders and packed joints. The capacity 
test shows the steaming quality of the boiler under heavy 
draft and the ability of the engine to make sufficient speed 
to develop its capacity when working against a reasonable 
water pressure. If the test is made from a cistern or reser- 
voir, it will show the ability of the engine to draft; if made 
from a hydrant, the percentage of slip obtained will indi- 



APPENDIX 359 

cate this feature, as an engine showing less than 5 per cent, 
slip may be depended upon to take suction satisfactorily. 
Incidentally, the test also shows the ability of the engine 
crew in operating and stoking the engine. 

Any machine, when new, should be capable of greater 
work than after several years of service; for this reason, a 
new engine should be given an acceptance test at least as 
severe as any work it may have to perform in actual service. 
This test should bring out not only the capacity to pump 
the actual volume of water specified by the maker as the 
rated capacity, but also to do this at a good working pres- 
sure. 

A good specification, applying equally well to steam fire 
engines and automobile fire engines, is that the engine 
should deliver its full rated capacity at 120 pounds net 
pressure and 50 per cent, of its rated capacity at 200 pounds 
net pressure. This will assure sufficient boiler capacity in 
steam fire engines and gasoline engines of high enough 
power in the automobile fire engine. 

Engines in service need not be given as severe a test as 
those being accepted, as it is mainly their general condition 
that is to be ascertained; for this reason, 100 pounds net 
water pressure would seem a sufficiently high requirement 
for the ordinary capacity test, which should be made at 
least yearly. 

Apparatus Necessary for Testing. For the tests out- 
lined below, no elaborate or costly outfit is needed, the only 
special appliances absolutely required being as shown on 
Plate I and listed below: 

A revolution counter. (Figure 3.) 
A stop-watch and wrist strap. (Figure 5.) 
A small Pitot tube. (Figure 9.) 
An air chamber on Pitot. (Figure n.) 
Two or more pressure gages. (Figures I and 10.) 
A set of smooth bore nozzles. (Figure 4.) 
A hydrant or engine-discharge cap. (Figure 2.) 
Appliance for attaching counter. (Figures 6 and 7 or 
Figure 8.) 



3 6o FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

The revolution counter should be of a type easily at- 
tached to the engine frame, or any convenient part, and 
so made as to register accurately at any speed likely to be 
reached by a reciprocating engine and be easily read. 

The counter may be provided with straps for attaching 
to engine, or with the clamp and angle iron shown on 
Plate I, Figures 6 and 7, or with bolts and slotted lugs as 
shown in Plate I, Figure 8. 

Tachometers and speed indicators are unsuitable for fire 
engine work, as the vibration is apt to render their read- 
ings unreliable. 

A stop-watch can be purchased for less than $10, al- 
though an ordinary watch can be used. 

The Pitot tube may be any of several suitable types now 
on the market, or the type shown on Plate I may be readily 
constructed. Dimensions are given below. It should be 
connected by %-inch brass pipe fittings to a pressure gage; 
to prevent vibration of the needle, an air chamber should 
be provided as shown on Plate I. 

The pressure gages should be preferably not more than 
3*/2 inches in diameter, in order that they may be con- 
veniently handled. They should be of the compound type, 
in order that any disarrangement of the needle may be 
readily observed, one capable of indicating from a vacuum 
up to 150 pounds and one up to 200 pounds, and preferably 
divided for every pound and marked every 5 or 10 pounds, 
as shown in Figures i and 10, Plate I. Gages, especially 
those used with the Pitot, should be of good quality and 
accurate. They should be carefully calibrated (tested) 
with a weight tester or a standard gage before each day's 
work. 

Nozzles suitable for testing are usually found in the 
regular equipment of every fire department. Only smooth 
bore tapered nozzles should be used, as discharges from 
ring nozzles are uncertain. Care should be taken that the 
tips are not nicked or otherwise injured, and that washers 
do not project into the pipe, as a perfectly smooth water- 
way is essential. The ring nozzles on many engines have 



APPENDIX 361 

loose rings, which may be slipped out by unscrewing the 
end cap, leaving a suitable smooth-bore tip. Shut-off noz- 
zles should not be used, as these generally have interior 
projections or breaks in the waterway, likely to cause eddies 
in the stream. Where much testing is to be done, it is 
better to set aside nozzles, keeping them solely for that 
purpose. The bore of nozzles should be accurate to size 
within 1/1,000 of an inch and carefully measured. 

The engine-discharge cap, or hydrant cap (in most cities 
these have the same thread) is tapped for ^-inch pipe 
thread and fitted with a nipple and stop-cock for attaching 
the test gage. By attaching to the discharge outlet of the 
engine, the engine water gage and the test gage may be 
compared to determine if the engine gage is correct. 
Where there is time to detach the water gage and a testing 
set is available, the gage can be more accurately checked. 
The steam gages are less likely to get out of order, being 
less subject to sudden fluctuations, and a comparison of 
readings of side and rear steam gages will usually be suf- 
ficient. If the engine has no suction gage or tapped suction 
cap, the engine or hydrant cap should be used on the second 
outlet of the hydrant when testing an engine at a double 
outlet hydrant. 

Tests are best made by a supervisor (as the master 
mechanic or other officer conducting the test will hereafter 
be called), with an assistant accustomed to reading gages. 
Tables showing the discharge at various pressures through 
different nozzles, for use with Pitot tube readings, are to be 
found on pages 382 and 383. The suitable form for re- 
cording data of tests is shown on page 372, and until the 
supervisor becomes familiar with tests, it is advisable to 
use a similar form at the tests in order not to overlook any 
necessary data. Later, a pocket note-book will doubtless 
be found more convenient, care being taken to record all 
the necessary data. 

Preliminary to Test. If possible, calibrate gages of en- 
gine before the test, by detaching and comparing on a 
portable gage-testing set. They should be calibrated in the 



362 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

position in which they are to be used, either horizontally 
or vertically. If this is not done, check water and suction 
gages at test, as explained below. 

If it is desired to determine the ability of the regular 
engine crew, the engine should, of course, be operated by 
them; if the condition and capacity of the engine are the 
unknown factors, a crew known to be efficient should be 
selected. 

If there is any convenient body of water, or cistern, 
where water may be drafted with not over 10 feet of lift, 
then test should be made at draft ; otherwise, attach engine 
to hydrant, care being taken to get a hydrant attached to a 
large main (8-inch or larger), and that the hydrant pres- 
sure is not excessive, preferably below 40 pounds. Four- 
inch or larger suction should be used. After suitably sta- 
tioning engine, light the fire; note the time when smoke 
comes from stack, when the steam gage needle moves, at 50 
pounds of steam, at 100 pounds, and pressure and time of 
blowing off. If engine has hot water in boiler, this may 
be omitted, noting only the pressure at which safety valve 
blows off. Then, if water gage on engine has not been 
calibrated (checked), attach hydrant cap and 2OO-pound 
test gage to engine discharge outlet. Record zero of all 
three gages water, suction and test gages; open hydrant 
and record static pressure on all three gages; then with 
churn (hand relief) valve partly open and discharge gates 
shut, pump up pressure and compare test and water gages 
at 80 pounds, 100, no, 120, etc., up to 120 pounds over the 
static or hydrant pressure. If engine has no suction gage, 
one of the suction caps on the engine can be tapped to con- 
nect the gage, or the engine or hydrant cap provided with 
the second gage should be attached to one hydrant outlet. 

Let supervisor and assistant compare watches and set 
second hands together, or nearly so; this is more quickly 
accomplished if one watch has a stop-hand. The super- 
visor will find it convenient to tie his watch to coat or wrist 
in order to leave his hands free to hold note-book or Pitot. 
A leather watch holder and wrist strap, as shown on Plate 



APPENDIX 363 

I, such as any harness maker can make, is a convenient 
appliance for this purpose. Attach the revolution counter 
and connect with one of the eccentric strap oil cups or studs 
by a short length of cord; have engine started slowly and 
adjust counter cord so that each revolution registers. 

Displacement and Capacity Test. While the engine is 
getting up steam, have firemen lay hose and connect nozzle. 
If testing on a paved street, it is best to lay nozzle down in 
gutter. Use a play-pipe holder or tie nozzle to any con- 
venient post, in order to prevent pipe getting away from 
pipeman and doing damage. 

For the larger engines, attach a line of hose on each side 
of the engine and connect into the Siamese of a deluge set. 

With the smaller size engines, it is usually more con- 
venient to use a single line from one side of the engine; 
when deluge sets are not available, single lines may be 
used on the larger engines. In the table on page 379, the 
length of hose and size of nozzle best adapted for test- 
ing engines of various sizes are given. In testing with the 
siamesed lines, start the engines with both lines open and 
bring it up to speed; if the desired water pressure is not 
obtained, close the discharge gate on one line slowly until 
the gate indicates the proper pressure. Similarly, with a 
single line attached, the gate is closed slowly after engine 
has obtained its full speed until the desired pressure is ob- 
tained. 

The supervisor can, from time to time, regulate this 
discharge gate to keep the desired water pressure, although 
if the crew operates the engine properly but little change 
will have to be made throughout the test. The engineer 
can be instructed to direct all his attention to operating his 
engine to full capacity, and the supervisor or testing en- 
gineer can regulate the water pressure, take the readings 
of the revolution counter, steam, water and suction gages, 
while his assistant takes readings of the nozzle pressure 
throughout the test. 

When siamesed lines are used, should the engine not be 
able to maintain the desired water pressure with one line 



364 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

shut off entirely, add another length of hose to each side, or 
use a nozzle %-inch smaller. With single lines, when the 
engine cannot maintain the desired pressure without undue 
throttling of the discharge valve, use a smaller nozzle or 
add another length of hose. The nozzle readings should, if 
possible, be over 40 pounds, as below this point readings 
must be very nearly constant to give accurate results. 

Should water pressure at the engine be too high with 
both lines wide open, use a larger nozzle or cut out a 
length of hose from each side. 

Relief valves should be closed, sprinkler used only as 
needed, and feed pumps operated regularly. The capacity 
test should last at least 20 minutes from the time the 
engine reaches full speed. During this time the water pres- 
sure at the engine should be constant and such as to give 
a net water pressure over the suction pressure of 100 to 
1 20 pounds. Unless the rubber tires cause undue vibration, 
a modern engine, if in good condition, can safely run for 
an indefinite period at 400 to 425 feet of piston travel per 
minute, that is, 300 to 320 revolutions for an 8-inch stroke. 

It is usually better to hold about 10 pounds over the pres- 
sure actually required, when the water pressure fluctuates 
much, as most engineers read the top of swing of a gage 
needle, while the supervisor, of course, should read the 
middle of the vibration. Gages may be throttled to prevent 
excessive vibration, but should always show some vibration 
to get true readings. A better method of preventing exces- 
sive vibration of needle on gage is to attach a small air 
chamber to the connection near the gage. During the 
capacity test, the supervisor should read counter (exactly 
at minute) and steam, water and suction gages each minute 
in regular order, and note the handling and stoking, feed 
water, leaks, uneven steam pressure, blowing off, foaming 
of boiler, accidents, and the other little details which his ex- 
perience teaches him to observe. Meanwhile the super- 
visor's assistant should read the nozzle pressure every y 
minute. Special care should be taken in reading the nozzle 
pressure. The Pitot should be held in the middle of the 



APPENDIX 365 

stream, with the tip about one-half the diameter of the 
bore from the end of the nozzle. Gage should be horizontal 
or vertical, according to the position in which it was cali- 
brated, and at the same level as the end of the nozzle. 

High Pressure Test. After a run of 20 minutes in which 
there were no serious interruptions to readings, and pres- 
sure was maintained at an average of at least 100 pounds 
net, stop stoking; shut down, close discharge gates, partly 
open churn valve and get steam down to between 70 and 
80 pounds, drawing fire if necessary. Then start engine 
slowly, and gradually close churn valve tight. See that all 
other openings, feed pumps, sprinklers, relief cocks, etc., 
are shut. Let engine turn in this condition for one or two 
minutes ; observe the number of revolutions, and the water, 
steam and suction (now static) pressures; note any uneven 
motion of engine, blowing through of steam or imperfect 
valve setting, leaks in steam or water ends, or fittings, etc. 
If pumps are in good condition and valves set correctly, 
speed should not be over one revolution in 10 seconds in 
any modern type engine. With 70 pounds steam and 50 
pounds suction, water pressure will reach about 250 
pounds ; this is perfectly safe and not a severe test, as such 
pressures are frequently met in operation when long lines 
are used. 

Valve Tests. After taking the observations for the high 
pressure test, shut off throttle of engine and open cylinder 
drips. Note the drop in water pressure for say one-half 
minute. The manner in which this pressure holds up is an 
indication of the condition of the discharge valves. A drop 
of not over 15 pounds in one-half minute, provided there 
are no external leaks visible around the pump, indicates a 
fairly good condition of the valves. 

Suction Test. If the engine has been tested at a hydrant, 
its ability to draft may be determined as follows, provided 
it is equipped with a compound suction gage or one of the 
suction caps is tapped to receive a compound gage: Dis- 
connect engine from hydrant while there is still some steam 
pressure on boiler, put both suction caps on tight, open one 



3 66 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

of the discharge gates and then open throttle, allowing en- 
gine to run at a moderate speed, observe the reading of the 
compound gage while running, and also after shutting 
down. The drop of the vacuum after shutting down is an 
indication of the condition of the suction valves, provided 
all joints are good. 

To Figure Displacement. In averaging the nozzle, 
steam, water and suction pressures, subtract y^ of first and 
last readings from sum of readings used (see sample 
test sheet). Average the nozzle pressure during a period 
in which the engine ran steadily, water pressure was 
well maintained and the nozzle pressure varied the least. 
When possible, use a 2O-minute period in figuring the dis- 
placement; if for any reason there is much variation in the 
nozzle pressure, say over 10 per cent, during any one min- 
ute, select as long a period as possible, but at least 10 
minutes, during which the pressure has been well main- 
tained. Correct for gage error. Take out corresponding 
gallons from table, interpolating for odd pressures or for 
odd-size nozzles. 
Example: iy 2 " nozzle, 61 pounds nozzle pressure. 

62 pounds nozzle pressure gives. . 525 gallons 

60 pounds nozzle pressure gives 517 gallons 

or 2 pounds give a difference of . ., 8 gallons 

and i pound gives y 2 of this, or 4 gallons 

Therefore, 61 pounds nozzle pressure. . . .517+4 

=521 gallons 

Example: i 9/16" nozzle, 60 pounds nozzle pressure. 
60 pounds through i^" nozzle gives.... 607 gallons 
60 pounds through ij^" nozzle gives. .,. . 517 gallons 

or Y%" difference in nozzle diameter gives . . 90 gallons 
and 1/16" difference in nozzle dia'r gives 45 gallons 
Therefore, i 9/16" nozzle at 60 pounds gives 517+45 

=562 gallons 

For odd-size nozzles, the discharge can be accurately ob- 
tained by using the formula under table of nozzle factors. 



APPENDIX 367 

Divide the average gallons discharged by the average 
revolutions per minute to obtain the actual net displacement 
of the pumps. The nominal displacement will be found 
from the table, page 366, allowing for the pump rods. The 
dimension of the pumps, such as stroke, diameter of pump 
barrel and pump rods, should be accurately measured, if in 
question. The difference between actual and nominal dis- 
placements is the slip, which should be from 3 to 5 per 
cent, of the nominal displacement in a new engine (6 per 
cent, in a rotary) ; of this, about Y^ per cent, is due to the 
feed water. After engine has been in use a few months, 
slip will generally increase about i per cent. ; thereafter, if 
valves and packings are given proper attention, there 
should be only a slight increase. A slip of 10 per cent, or 
over indicates broken or displaced valve springs, and more 
than this, a badly worn plunger or pump barrel, or pos- 
sibly a leaky suction. In a rotary, the wear is principally 
in the pump cam slides, which will also stick at times, caus- 
ing increased slip even if not worn. 

To Figure Capacity. When the engine is run for 20 
minutes at a uniform speed during the displacement test, 
the average discharge measured at the nozzle by the Pitot 
is the capacity of the engine. If only a lominute period 
of the run is used for figuring the displacement, the capac- 
ity of the engine is determined by multiplying the actual 
displacement (found in the displacement test) by the aver- 
age revolutions per minute during a 2O-minute period in 
which the engine worked at its full capacity. Steam, water 
and suction pressures during the capacity run should be 
averaged and corrected for gage error. In figuring per- 
centage of capacity delivered, for a new fire engine, it is 
well to use contract figures for the rated capacity which the 
engine is guaranteed to deliver. A capacity due to a piston 
travel of about 420 feet per minute (315 revolutions for 
8-inch stroke) less a 3 per cent, allowance for slip, is rea- 
sonable for a modern engine ; older types vary considerably. 



368 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 



AUTOMOBILE AND GASOLINE DRIVEN FIRE ENGINES 

IN so far as they apply, the same tests are desirable for 
automobile and other gasoline motor pumping engines as 
for steam fire engines, so that the same methods for meas- 
uring the water discharged, calibrating (testing) water 
gages, calculating the actual and normal displacement and 
slip of the pumps and averaging the net water pressure 
may be used. High pressure, valve and suction tests may 
also be made in much the same way as on steam fire en- 
gines. 

Owing to the characteristics of the internal combustion 
engine certain additional tests and modifications will be 
found advantageous. A capacity test should be run longer 
than is usually necessary with a steam engine. It is sug- 
gested that for acceptance, engines of this type be required 
to deliver their full rated capacity at 120 pounds average 
net pressure for 2 hours, and 50 per cent, of their rated 
capacity at 200 pounds net pressure for I hour. 

Additional tests with a line or lines at least 300 feet in 
length with shut-off nozzles are desirable and should pref- 
erably be made with engine drafting. While the streams 
are playing with 120 pound pressure at the engine, first one 
nozzle and then both should be shut off and the same tried 
with other pressures up to 200 pounds. In these tests the 
relief valve should be set at about 10 pounds higher than 
the pressure to be carried. 

The pumps should be stopped and started with lines open, 
with one open and one closed, and with both closed; the 
motor should not stall during such tests. Tests should also 
be made to show that the engines can pump their full guar- 
anteed capacity at 120 pounds net pressure when drafting 
with up to 10 feet of lift, if there is a possibility that the 
engine may be required to take suction from a river, canal 
or cistern when in service. 



APPENDIX 



369 



LOG OF FIRE ENGINE TEST 




6AGE_ 

CCMPAJWOH 



CNQINC: Site. 
DIMENSIONS: Culm 

BOILER- Te 



dera...^.t ___ Pump Bor 



Rated {"ff-'ti^jaf? RuJiT UQJ 
3m* fl^ j. Pump na*..{ 



ME :OUWTER R.PW STtAM 



12.5 



100 



/?/ 



t 



/^z_ 



Jtfl. 



to 






f,? 






I4S 



ifi. 



. 



10? 3 



3JL 



j& 



2JJX. 



=1/7 



lli 



14_L. 



fir 



144 



14JL 



2L 



tt 



r/' 



3&Z- 



L&L 



A- 





fyT^v 



43SS 



JM. 



ls_ 




2S 



DISPLACEMENT TEST 



CAPACITY TEST 



HIGH PRESSURE TEST 



m 



STEXX 



VAUVE TE3T 



T'*C 



3uro^^Q mina 



4^ 



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370 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 



A. L. A. M. FORMULA FOR HORSE-POWER OF GASOLINE 

MOTORS. 

^ Bore X Bore X No. of Cylinders 

Horse-Power = - - - 

Example. Six-cylinder motor 4j^-inch bore. 



REASONABLE CAPACITIES OF MODERN FIRE ENGINES 



Bore of Pumps, 
Inches 


Stroke, Inches 


Capacity, 
Gallons per Minute 


6 

5M 

5 
4 


9 
8 or 9 
8 
8 or 9 
8 
8 
7 or 8 
7 or 8 
7 


1,100 
1,000 

900 
850 

750 
700 
600 

550 
500 



RATED CAPACITY OF SILSBY ENGINES 



Maker's 
Size 


Nominal Displacement 
per Revolution, 
Gallons 


Rated Capacity, 
Gallons per Min. 


Extra First 
First 
Second 
Third 
Fourth 
Fifth 


i. 261 
1.141 
0.952 
0.804 
0.675 
0-513 


1,000 

900 
700 
600 
500 
400 



APPENDIX 



CALCULATIONS FOR ENGINE TESTS. 



DISPLACEMENT TEST. 

AVERAGE DISCHARGE. 
To obtain Average Nozzle Pressure: 

Sum Column " Min." 

Subtract H sum of first and last 
figures 



Sum Column " ; 
Sum Column "; 
Sum Column '" 



Divide by 80 ) 7,173 

Average Nozzle Reading 89.7 

Correction from Gage Test 

Sheet +2.0 

Average Nozzle Pressure... 91 -7 
From Discharge Tables for l%" Nozzle*: 

92 Ibs. gives 751 gallons. 

90 Ibs. gives 743 gallons. 

2 Ibs. gives 8 gallons. 

1.7 Ibs. gives 6. 8 gallons. 

Then 91.7 Ibs. = 749 8 gallons. 

AVERAGE R. P. M. 

Counter at 3 59 4,358 

Counter at 3 .39 7.870 

Divide by 20 ) 6,488 

Average R. P. M. = 324.4 
ACTUAL DISPLACEMENT. 
Average Discharge _ 749.8 
Average R. P. M. " 



2.311 



324-4 

NOMINAL DISPLACEMENT. 
From Engine Displacement Table: 

4%" Bore, 8" Stroke 2 .455 

i W' Pump Rod 085 

Nominal Displacement 2.370 
SLIP,' IN PER CENT. 

Nom. Displacement Act. Displacement 
Nominal Displacement 



CAPACITY TEST. 
AVERAGE R. P. M. 
Same as for Displacement Test in this 



GALLONS PER MINUTE. 
Same as for Displacement Test in this 
case. 

AVERAGES OF PRESSURES. 
Steam: 

Sum of Column 2,787 

H of first and last figures 133 

Divide by 20 ) 2,654 

Average Steam Reading.... 132.7 
Water: 

Sum of Column 3,065 

H of first and last figures .... 142 . 5 

Divided by 20 ) 2.922.5 

Average Reading 146 . 1 

Correction from Test of Gage 
and Test .Sheet, for Gage 

No. 119 i.o 

Average Water Pressure . . 145 . x 
Suction: 

Sum of Column 746 

M of first and last figures 35 

Divide by 20 ) 711 



2.37Q 2.311 
a. 370 



3%. 



Average Reading 35 .6 

Correction from Test of Gage +i .o 

Average Suction Pressure. . . 36.6 
Net Pressure: 

Average water pressure 145 . x 

Average suction pressure 36 . 6 

Average net pressure 108.5 

PERCENTAGE OF CAPACITY OBTAINED. 
Reasonable capacity of Pumps 
based on 400 ft. Piston Travel 

per Min. . =700 gals. 

Obtained at Test 750 gall. 

or 107% of Rating. 






37* 



FIRES AND. FIRE-FIGHTERS 



ENGINE DISPLACEMENT TABLE 



DOUBLE PUMPS. 



PLUNGER DISPLACEMENT. 
GALLONS PER REVOLUTION. 



PUMP ROD CORRECTION. 
GALLONS PER REVOLUTION. 



Bore 
of Pump 
Inches 


Stroke in Inches 
789 


Diameter 
of 
Pump Rods 


Stroke in Inches 
789 


3 1/2 


.166 


1.333 


.500 


i" 


0.047 0.054 0.061 


3 5/8 


251 


1.430 


.609 


i 1/16 


0.053 0.061 0.069 


3 3/4 
3 7/8 


339 
430 


1-530 
1.634 


.721 
.838 


1/8 

3/i6 


0.060 0.069 0.078 
0.067 0.077 0.087 


4 


.523 


1.740 


.958 


1/4 


0.074 0.085 0.096 


4 1/8 


.620 


1.851 


.082 


5/i6 


0.081 0.093 0.105 




-719 


1.965 


.211 


3/8 


0.089 0.102 O.II5 


4 3/8 


.822 


2.083 


2.343 


7/i6 


O.098 O.I 12 O.I26 


4 1/2 


1.928 


2.203 


2.478 


1/2 


O.I07 O.I22 O.I38 


4 5/8 


2.036 


2.327 


2.618 


0/16 


O.II6 0.133 0.150 


4 3/4 


2.148 


2-455 


2.762 


5/8 


O.I26 O.I43 O.I62 


47/8 


2.263 


2.586 


3.909 


11/16 


0.136 0.155 0.174 


5 


2.380 


3.720 


3.060 


I 3/4 


0.146 O.l67 O.I88 


5 1/8 


2.500 


2.858 


3-215 






5 1/4 


2.624 


2.999 


3-374 




5 3/8 


3.750 


3-143 


3.536 


Subtract pump rod correction from 


5 f 
5 5/8 

5 3/4 


3.880 
3.012 
3-147 


3.291 
3-442 
3-597 


3.702 
3.872 
4-047 


plunger displacement to obtain correct 
displacement of engine. 
For single-pump engines, use one-half 
of result obtained. 


57/8 


3.286 


3-755 


4-225 


For single-acting pumps do not subtract 










pump rod connection. 


6 


3.427 


3.917 


4.407 





Example: Engine with sJi-inch pump, 9-inch stroke and ij^-inch pump rod. 
From Table above: 

Displacement of Plunger =3.374 gallons. 

Correction for Rod =o. 138 gallons. 

Nominal Displacement =3.236 gallons. 



APPENDIX 



373 



Below is given a table for use when engines are worked 
at draft, either in actual service or in testing. A study of 
it will show that where a high lift is necessary, small suc- 
tions will restrict the capacity of an engine; the table indi- 
cates clearly what sizes are necessary under different condi- 
tions. The figures are based on the ability of the pumps 
to maintain a vacuum of 23 inches. 



TABLE SHOWING MAXIMUM LIFT IN FEET WHEN 
DRAFTING VARIOUS QUANTITIES OF WATER 
WITH A FIRE ENGINE IN GOOD CONDITION. 



Quantity of 
Water, 
Gallons per 
Minute 


MAXIMUM LIFT IN FEET. ENGINE DRAFTING 


3" Suction 


\W Suction 


4" Suction 


4M" Suction 


S" Suction 


300 


16 


2O 


22 y 2 


24 


2 4^ fl 












O 












**3 


400 


8K 


17 


20 


22^ 


24 1 


500 




I2 1^ 


lS^2 


20^ 


'3 "2 












1 




600 




?_ 


15 


I9H 


21 W) 


700 




4 1 A 




17 


19^ 


800 






6K 




19 


900 






6 


"3^ 


I7 .| 















1,000 








8 


^4/^ w 












*o 


1,100 








7^ 


12 ,|j 


1,200 








4 


9^1 


1,300 










6/2 


1,300 


i 


ength of 


suction. 




Qx2 



374 



FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 



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f* ^ 

ill 

Hi 

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O o 



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CAPA 



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til 



AND SIZE OF N( 

THE DESIRED Pi 



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lljl 

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J.. 
o 




! 



3 



I 



a 



= 



- 



1? 

S5 

O 
I 



I? 

!^ 

H 
II 



*3 

Is 

1, 

5^3 

3 h a 



I 
IIS 

* Z J! 



APPENDIX 



375 



B8 

si 

3$ 



fl 

8 



I 

I 



^ 



'o "ti 

P-s 
6gs 



as 









376 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

FIRE STREAM TABLES 

THESE tables are arranged to show the pressures re- 
quired at the hydrant or fire engine, while stream is flowing, 
to maintain nozzle pressures given in the first columns, 
through various lengths of 2*^, 3 and 3 ^2-inch rubber 
lined hose in single lines and two lines of 2^ -inch hose 
siamesed. 

Nozzle pressures of 40 to 60 pounds from 1% and i%- 
inch nozzles will give streams which may be classed as good 
and which can be handled without special appliances; for 
deluge sets, turret pipes, etc., with i^-inch and larger 
nozzles, 80 to 120 pounds nozzle pressure is desirable for 
effective fire-fighting; the height, area and general charac- 
ter of the building are factors in determining at what 
pressure a stream may be considered good, as well as in 
determining whether a nozzle is of sufficient size to furnish 
an effective stream, nothing less than i^-inch being con- 
sidered as effective for outside work, except for fires in 
small buildings. In this connection it should be noted that 
a I or i Y% -inch ring tip delivers a stream about j inch 
smaller than the diameter of the tip. 

The pressure at the hydrant or fire engine is that indi- 
cated by a gage attached to the hydrant or fire engine while 
the stream is flowing. The pressure at the nozzle is that 
indicated by a Pitot gage held in the stream. 

The hydrant (or engine) pressures are obtained by add- 
ing to the nozzle pressure the friction loss in the hose, and 
also the small additional loss in, the hydrant outlet or en- 
gine discharge. 

Friction losses in hose are based on tests of best quality 
rubber-lined fire hose and are for loo-foot lengths meas- 
ured without pressure applied. Diameters of hose, as meas- 
ured under 75 pounds pressure, assumed as the average 
working condition, were as follows: For nominal 2j/- 
inch, 2.575 or about 29/16 inches; for nominal 3-inch, 
3.125 or 3j inches; for nominal 3j^-inch, 3.685 or 
about 3 1 1/ 1 6 inches. 



APPENDIX 377 

The smoothness of the lining has a very considerable 
effect on the friction loss, some samples tested showing 
losses 50 per cent, in excess of those given. A slight varia- 
tion in diameter also produces a marked difference in fric- 
tion loss; in the case of 2^-inch hose, a variation of 1/16 
inch in diameter will result in 10 per cent, difference in loss. 
If properly beveled 2 J^ -inch couplings are used on 3-inch 
hose, the loss of pressure due to them will be less than 5 
per cent, of that gained by the use of the larger hose. For 
instance, for a flow of 300 gallons per minute, the loss in 
2^ -inch hose will be about 21 pounds, in 3-inch hose with 
3-inch couplings about 8 pounds, and in 3-inch with 2^2- 
inch couplings about 8^2 pounds. 

For siamesed lines, an allowance was made for the loss 
in the Siamese connection and for 20 feet of 3^ -inch lead 
hose. 

The pressures given are for the nozzle at the same eleva- 
tion as the hydrant or engine discharge outlet. Add or 
subtract i pound to the pressure given for each 21/3 feet 
difference in elevation. The arrangement of the table al- 
lows a comparison to be readily made of the results obtain- 
able with 3-inch hose and siamesed lines against single lines 
of 2^ -inch hose. 



378 



FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 



TABLE OF NOZZLE FACTORS 



THE discharge in gallons per minute is equal to the 
square root of the pressure multiplied by the factor. 





FACTORS 


Diameter of the 




nozzle in inches 




For Fresh Water For Salt (sea) Water 


2 118.96 


"7-45 


2/4 150.56 


148.64 


2j^ 185.88 


183.50 


2% 224.91 


222.05 


3 267.66 


264.25 


3/4 3 I 4' I 3 


310.13 


3^2 364.32 


359-68 


3% 418.23 


412.90 


4 475.85 


469.79 


4J 537-19 


530.35 


4z2 602.25 


594.58 


4% 671.02 


662.48 


5 743.51 


734.03 


6 1,070.64 


1,057.00 



For any size nozzles, the discharge, for fresh water, can 
be determined by the following formula: 

Gallons per minute 29.83 c d 2 Vp. 

Where d diameter of nozzle in inches, measured to 
i/iooo of an inch. 

p pressure recorded on Pitot gage in pounds. 

c=a constant, varying from 0.990 for i-inch nozzle to 
0.997 for 6-inch nozzle. 

For ordinary use, the formula can be reduced to: 

Gallons per minute=29.7 d 2 Vp. 



APPENDIX 



379 



FORMULA FOR OBTAINING APPROXIMATE NOZZLE OR ENGINE 

PRESSURES, LENGTH OF LINE AND SIZE OF 

NOZZLE BEING GIVEN. 



Engine Pressure 

Nozzle Pressure in pounds T ^ T 

i.i-f~&- *< 

Engine Pressure in pounds = Nozzle Pressure (1.1 + 
KL). 

L= Number of 50- foot lengths of hose. 

K= Constant, varying with size of nozzle and hose. See 
Table following. 



4 






KF 


OR 






ii 

si 


Single 
Line 
2H" Hose 


Single 
Line 
3" Hose 


Single 
Line 
ZW' Hose 


Two 
2W' Lines 
biamesed 

* 


Two 
3" Lines 

Siamesed 

* 


3 Lines 


i 


105 


.0^8 




025 








.167 


.062 




.04^ 






* 


.248 


.092 


039 


.066 


.023 


.028 


I xX 


341 


137 


059 


.096 


.034 


.043 


1/2 


SOS 


.192 


.084 


135 


051 


.061 


i% 


.680 


.266 


"3 


.184 


.068 


.084 


i% 


.907 


351 


.152 


.242 


093 


."5 


2 


1-550 


.605 


.250 


.418 


157 


.190 



* Allowance is made for loss in deluge set; these values will also give 
approximately correct figures for turret nozzles and water tower, except 
that in the latter, pressure equal to 0.434 times the height of tower must 
be subtracted from the engine pressure, before solving for nozzle pressure. 



380 



FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 



EFFECTIVE REACH OF FIRE STREAMS. 

SHOWING THE DISTANCE IN FEET FROM THE NOZZLE AT 
WHICH STREAMS WILL DO EFFECTIVE WORK WITH A MODER- 
ATE WIND BLOWING. WITH A STRONG WIND THE REACH is 
GREATLY REDUCED. 






SIZE OF NOZZLE. 





i -Inch 


li-Inch 


ij-lnch 


It-Inch 


li-Inch 


Pressure at '. 


Vertical 
Distance, 
Feet 


Horizontal 
Distance, 
Feet 


Vertical 
Distance, 
Feet 


Horizontal 
Distance, 
Feet 


Vertical 
Distance, 
Feet 


Horizontal 
Distance, 
Feet 


Vertical 
Distance, 
Feet 


Horizontal 
Distance, 
Feet 


Vertical 
Distance, 
Feet 


Horizontal 
Distance, 
Feet 


20 


35 


37 


36 


38 


36 


39 


36 


40 


37 


42 


25 


43 


42 


44 


44 


45 


46 


45 


47 


46 


49 


30 


5i 


47 


52 


50 


52 


52 


53 


54 


54 


56 


35 


58 


5i 


59 


54 


59 


58 


60 


59 


62 


62 


40 


64 


55 


65 


59 


65 


62 


66 


64 


69 


66 


45 


69 


58 


* 70 


63 


70 


66 


72 


68 


74 


7i 


50 


73 


61 


75 


66 


75 


69 


77 


72 


79 


75 












M 












55 


76 


64 


79 


69 


80 


72 


81 


75 


83 


78 












u 












60 


79 


67 


83 


72 


8 4 


75 


85 


77 


87 


80 


65 


82 


70 


86 


75 


8? 


78 


88 


79 


90 


82 


70 


85 


72 


88 


77 


9 o 


80 


9i 


82 


92 


84 


75 


87 


74 


90 


79 


92 


82 


93 


84 


94 


86 


80 


89 


76 


92 


81 


94 


84 


95 


86 


96 


88 


85 


9i 


78 


94 


83 


96 


87 


97 


88 


98 


90 


90 


92 


80 


96 


85 


98 


89 


99 


90 


100 


91 



NOTE. Nozzle pressures are as indicated by Pitot tube. The horizontal 
and vertical distances are based on experiments by Mr. John R. Freeman, 
Transactions, Am. Soc. C. E., Vol. XXI. 



APPENDIX 
FRICTION LOSS IN FIRE HOSE. 



38i 



BASED ON TESTS OF BEST QUALITY RUBBER LINED FIRE HOSE.* 



Flow, Gallons per 
Minute 


PRESSURE Loss IN EACH 
loo FEET OF HOSE, 
POUNDS PER SQ. INCH 


Flow, Gallons per 
Minute 


PRESSURE Loss IN 
EACH loo FEET OF 
HOSE, POUNDS PER 
SQ. INCH 


Hole 


Hose 


Hose 


2 Lines 
of 2^2* 
Siamesed 


Hose 


Hose 


2 Lines 
of 2)^* 

Siamesed 


140 


5-2 


2.0 


0.9 


1-4 


525 


23.2 


10.5 


16.6 


1 60 


6.6 


2.6 


1.2 


1.9 


550 


25.2 


II. 4 


18.1 


180 


8-3 


3-2 


1-5 


2-3 


575 


27.5 


12.4 


19.0 


200 


10. I 


3-9 


1.8 


2.8 


600 


29.9 


13-4 


21.2 


220 


12.0 


4.2 


2.1 


3-3 


625 


32.0 


14.4 


23.0 


240 


I4.I 


5-4 


2.5 


3-9 


650 


34.5 


15.5 


2 4 .8 


260 


16.4 


6-3 


2.9 


4-5 


675 


37-0 


16.6 


26.5 


280 


18.7 


7.2 


3-3 


5-2 


700 


39-5 


17.7 


28. 3 


300 


21.2 


8.2 


3-7 


5-9 


725 


42.3 


18.9 


30.2 


320 


23-8 


9.3 


4.2 


6.6 


750 


45-0 


20. i 


32.2 


340 


26.9 


10.5 


4.7 


7-4 


775 


47-8 


21.4 


34-2 


360 


30.0 


. s 


5-2 


8.3 


800 


50.5 


22.7 


36.2 


380 


33.o 


12.8 


5-8 


9.2 


825 


53-5 


24.0 


38.4 


400 


36-2 


14.1 


6.3 


10. I 


850 


56.5 


25.4 


40.7 


425 


40.8 


15.7 


7.0 


II-3 


875 


59-7 


26.8 


43-1 


450 


45-2 


17.5 


7.9 


12.5 


900 


63.0 


28.2 


45-2 


475 


50.0 


19.3 


8.7 


13-8 


1,000 


76.5 


34-3 


55-0 


500 


55-0 


21.2 


9.5 


15-2 


I,IOO 


91-5 


41.0 


65.5 



* Rough rubber lining is liable to increase the losses given in the table as 
much as 50 per cent. 



382 



FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 



DISCHARGE TABLE FOR! SMOOTH NOZZLES. 



NOZZLE PRESSURE MEASURED BY PITOT GAGE. 



Nozzle 
Pressure 
in Ibs. per 
sq. inch 


NOZZLE DIAM. 


IN INCHES 


Nozzle 
Pressure 
in Ibs. per 
sq. inch 


NOZZLE DIAM. 


IN INCHES 


GaUons 


per minute 


Gallons 


per 


minute 




66 


84 


103 


125 


149 


00 


229 


290 


357 


434 


517 




72 


92 


113 


137 


163 


62 


233 


295 


363 


441 


525 


I 


78 
84 


99 
106 


122 
131 


148 
158 


176 

188 


i 


237 
240 


299 
304 


369 
375 


448 
455 


533 

542 


9 


89 


112 


139 


168 


200 


68 


244 


308 


381 


462 


550 


xo 


93 


118 


146 


177 


2IX 


70 


247 


313 


386 


469 


558 


X2 


102 


130 


160 


194 


231 


73 


251 




391 


475 


566 


It 


no 
118 


140 
ISO 


173 
185 


210 

224 


249 
267 


i 


254 
258 


322 

326 


397 
402 


482 
488 


574 
582 


18 


125 


159 


196 


237 


28 3 


78 


261 


330 


407 


494 


589 


30 


132 


167 


206 


250 


298 


80 


264 


335 


413 


50O 


596 


32 


139 


175 


216 


263 


313 


82 


268 


339 


418 


507 


604 


34 


145 


183 


226 


275 


327 


84 


271 


343 


423 


513 


6n 


26 


151 


191 


235 


286 


340 


86 


274 


347 


428 


519 


618 


28 


157 


198 


244 


297 


353 


88 


277 


351 


433 


525 


626 


30 


162 


205 


253 


307 


365 


90 


280 


355 


438 


531 


633 


33 


167 


212 


261 


317 


377 


93 


283 


359 


443 


537 


640 


i 


172 
177 


218 
224 


269 
277 


327 
336 


389 
400 





286 
289 


363 
367 


447 
452 


543 

549 


647 
654 


38 


182 


231 


285 


34S 


411 


98 


292 


370 


456 


554 


660 


40 


187 


237 


292 


354 


422 


100 


295 


374 


461 


560 


667 


43 


192 


243 


299 


363 


432 


105 


303 


383 


473 


574 


683 




196 


2 4 8 


306 


372 


442 


xzo 


310 


392 


484 


588 


699 


46 


200 


254 


313 


380 


452 


115 


317 


401 


495 


600 


715 


48 


205 


259 


320 


388 


462 


X2O 


324 


410 


505 


613 


730 


50 


209 


265 


326 


396 


472 


X35 


331 


418 


5i6 


626 


745 


52 


213 


270 


333 


404 


481 


130 


337 


427 


526 


638 


760 


U 


217 
221 


275 
280 


339 
345 


412 
419 


490 
499 


140 


343 
350 


435 

443 


536 
546 


650 
662 


789 


58 


225 


285 


351 


426 


508 


145 


356 


450 


556 


674 


803 


60 


229 


290 


357 


434 


517 


ISO 


362 


458 


565 


686 


'" 



Assumed coefficient of discharge per cent. = .99 .99 .99 .99^ -99H 
NOTE. Coefficients of discharge are based on experiments by Mr* John R. Freeman, 
Transactions Am. Soc. C. E.. Vols. XXI and ~~ 



APPENDIX 



383 



DISCHARGE TABLE FOR SMOOTH NOZZLES. 



NOZZLE PRESSURE MEASURED BY PITOT GAGE. 



Nozzle 
Pressure 
in Ibs. per 
sq. inch 


NOZZLE DIAM. 


IN INCHES 

a 2 L i 


Nozzle 
Pressure 
in Ibs. per 
sq. inch 


NOZZLE DIAM. IN 


INCHES 

2 2>i 


Gallons 


per 


minute 




Gallons 


per minute 




Z7S 


203 


234 


266 


337 


60 


607 


704 


810 


920 


1167 




192 


223 


256 


292 


309 


62 


617 


716 


823 


936 


1187 


i 


207 
222 


241 
257 


277 
296 


315 
336 


399 
427 


66 


627 
636 


727 
738 


836 
850 


951 
965 


1206 
1224 


9 


235 


273 




357 


452 


68 


646 


750 


862 


980 


1242 


KO 
Z3 

i 


2 4 8 
271 
293 
313 


288 
315 


330 
362 
391 
418 


376 

412 

445 
475 


477 

522 


70 

72 

i 


% 

Hi 


761 

771 
782 
792 


875 
887 

000 

911 


994 
1008 
1023 
103*6 


1260 
1278 
1296 
1313 


18 


332 


386 


444 


504 


640 


78 


692 


803 


924 


1050 


1330 


30 


350 


407 


468 


532 


674 


80 


700 


813 


935 


1063 


1347 


33 


307 


427 


490 


557 


707 


82 


709 


823 


946 


1076 


1364 


34 


384 


446 


512 


582 


739 


fj 




833 


959 


1089 


1380 


3O 


400 


464 


533 


606 


709 


86 


726 


843 


970 


1 1 02 


1396 


38 


415 


48! 


554 


629 


799 


88 


735 


853 


981 


1115 


1412 


30 


429 


498 


572 


651 


826 


90 


743 


862 


992 


1128 


1429 


n 


443 


514 


591 


673 


854 


92 


751 


872 


1002 


1140 


1445 


i 


457 
470 


530 
546 


610 
627 


693 
713 


880 
90S 


90 


759 
767 


881 
800 


1012 
1022 


1152 
1164 


1460 
1476 


38 


483 


56i 


645 


733 


930 


98 


775 


900 


1032 


1176 


Z49I 


40 


496 


575 


661 


752 


954 


zoo 


783 


909 


1043 


1189 


1506 


42 


508 


589 


678 


770 


978 


zos 


803 


932 


1070 


1218 


1542 


i 


520 
531 


603 
617 


694 
710 


788 
806 


1000 
IO2I 


ZIO 

zi5 


822 
840 


954 
975 


1095 
II2O 


1247 
1275 


1579 
1615 


48 


543 


630 


725 


824 


1043 


Z30 


858 


996 


ZI44 


1303 


1649 


50 

52 


554 
565 


643 

656 


740 

754 


8 4 I 
857 


1065 
1087 


125 
130 


876 
893 


1016 
1036 


1168 
1191 


1329 
1356 


1683 
1717 


i 


576 
586 


668 
680 


769 
782 


873 
889 


1108 

1129 


135 
Z40 


910 
927 


1056 
1076 


1213 
1235 


1382 
1407 


1750 
1780 


58 


596 


692 


796 


905 


1149 


145 


944 


1095 


1257 


1432 


1812 


60 


607 


704 


810 


920 


1 1 68 


150 


060 


1114 


1279 


1456 


1843 



Assumed coefficient of discharge per cent. .995 .995 .996 .997 .997 



384 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

i-INCH SMOOTH NOZZLE. 







PRESSURES REQUIRED AT HYDRANT OR 




a 


MAINTAIN NOZZLE PRESSURES GIVEN 


| >,<u 




LENGTHS OF BEST QUALITY 


1uO 


<p 




^?s 




Single 2^-inch Lines 


ll s 







OH-I 


& ^ 


















S3 


3 


TOO 


200 


300 


400 


500 


600 


700 


800 






Feet 


Feet 


Feet 


Feet 


Feet 


Feet 


Feet 


Feet 


20 


132 


25 


30 


35 


39 


44 


49 


53 


58 


25 


148 


31 


37 


43 


49 


55 


60 


66 


72 


30 


162 


38 


44 


Si 


58 


65 


72 


78 


85 


35 


175 


44 


52 


59 


67 


75 


83 


9i 


98 


40 


187 


50 


59 


68 


77 


86 


94 


103 


112 


45 


198 


56 


66 


76 


86 


96 


106 


"5 


125 


50 


209 


62 


73 


84 


95 


106 


117 


128 


139 


55 


219 


68 


80 


92 


104 


116 


128 


140 


152 


60 


229 


75 


88 


101 


114 


127 


140 


153 


166 


65 


238 


81 


95 


109 


123 


137 


i5i 


165 


179 


70 


247 


87 


IO2 


117 


132 


147 


162 


177 


192 


75 


256 


93 


109 


125 


141 


157 


173 


189 


205 


80 


264 


99 


116 


133 


150 


167 


183 


200 


217 


85 


272 


105 


123 


141 


159 


177 


195 


212 


230 


90 


280 


in 


130 


149 


167 


186 


205 


224 


243 


95 


287 


117 


137 


157 


177 


196 


216 


236 


256 


100 


295 


123 


144 


165 


185 


206 


227 


247 


268 



APPENDIX 
- AND 3-INCH HOSE. 



385 



FIRE ENGINE, WHILE STREAM is FLOWING, TO 
IN FIRST COLUMN, THROUGH VARIOUS 
2^- AND 3-iNCH RUBBER LINED HOSE 


*, 




Single 3-inch Lines 


Two 2%-'mch 
Lines Siamesed 


1,000 

Feet 


I,20O 

Feet 


800 

Feet 


1,000 
Feet 


I,2OO 

Feet 


1,500 
Feet 


1,000 

Feet 


1,500 
Feet 


2,000 

Feet 


68 


77 


35 


39 


42 


48 


33 


40 


46 


20 


84 


95 


43 


48 


52 


59 


4i 


49 


57 


25 


99 


112 


52 


57 


62 


70 


49 


59 


68 


30 


H4 


I 3 


60 


66 


72 


81 


57 


68 


79 


35 


130 


148 


68 


75 


82 


92 


65 


78 


90 


40 


145 


165 


77 


84 


92 


103 


72 


86 


99 


45 


1 60 


182 


85 


93 


102 


114 


80 


95 


no 


50 


175 


199 


93 


IO2 


112 


125 


88 


105 


121 


55 


192 


218 


102 


112 


122 


137 


96 


114 


132 


60 


207 


235 


no 


121 


131 


148 


103 


122 


141 


65 


222 


252 


118 


130 


141 


159 


in 


132 


152 


70 


237 


269 


127 


139 


151 


170 


120 


142 


164 


75 


251 


285 


135 


148 


161 


181 


128 


151 


i75 


80 


266 


302 


143 


156 


170 


191 


135 


159 


184 


85 


280 


* . . ... 


I5i 


165 


180 


202 


143 


169 


195 


90 


295 





158 


173 


189 


211 


150 


177 


204 


95 


310 





167 


183 


199 


223 


157 


186 


215 


100 



386 



FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

iJ4-INCH SMOOTH NOZZLE. 



Ctf -M 

JS.H S 


to 

JL 
s 


PRESSURES REQUIRED AT HYDRANT OR FIRE 
NOZZLE PRESSURES GIVEN IN FIRST 
QUALITY 2^2- AND 


Single 2 }4-inch Lines 


IOO 

Feet 


200 

Feet 


300 

Feet 


4OO 

Feet 


500 

Feet 


600 

Feet 


7OO 

Feet 


800 

Feet 


1,000 

Feet 


I,2OO 

Feet 


20 


i6 7 


28 


35 


42 


49 


56 


64 


71 


78 


92 


107 


25 


i8 7 


35 


44 


53 


62 


71 


79 


88 


97 


"5 


133 


30 


205 


42 


52 


63 


73 


84 


95 


105 


116 


137 


158 


35 


221 


49 


61 


73 


85 


97 


IIO 


122 


134 


158 


183 


40 


237 


55 


69 


83 


96 


IIO 


124 


138 


I5i 


179 


206 


45 


251 


62 


77 


93 


108 


123 


139 


154 


169 


200 


230 


50 


265 


69 


86 


103 


120 


137 


154 


171 


188 


222 


256 


55 


277 


76 


94 


112 


131 


149 


168 


186 


204 


241 


278 


60 


290 


83 


103 


123 


143 


163 


183 


203 


223 


263 


304 


65 


301 


89 


in 


132 


154 


175 


197 


218 


240 


28 3 


326 


70 


313 


96 


119 


142 


165 


1 88 


211 


234 


257 


303 





75 
80 

85 
90 

95 

100 


324 

345 
355 

374 


103 
no 
116 
123 

136 


128 

144 

IS 2 
160 
168 


152 
l62 
171 

181 
191 

201 


177 

188 
199 

2IO 
222 
233 


202 

226 
240 
252 
265 


227 
241 

254 
269 
283 
297 


252 
267 
282 
298 

329 


276 
294 
309 
327 


325 


























APPENDIX 
2^-INCH AND 3-INCH HOSE. 



387 



ENGINE, WHILE STREAM is FLOWING, TO MAINTAIN 
COLUMN, THROUGH VARIOUS LENGTHS OF BEST 
3-iNCH RUBBER LINED HOSE 


w 

3 
8S 



3-8 
|1 


Single 3-inch Lines 


Two 2%-mch Lines 
Siamesed 


400 

Feet 


600 

Feet 


800 

Feet 


1,000 

Feet 


1,200 

Feet 


1,500 

Feet 


i, 800 

Feet 


800 

Feet 


1,000 
Feet 


1,200 

Feet 


1,500 

Feet 


1, 800 

Feet 


32 


37 


43 


48 


54 


62 


71 


38 


42 


46 


53 


60 


20 


40 


46 


53 


60 


67 


77 


87 


45 


50 


55 


63 


70 


25 


47 


55 


63 


71 


79 


9i 


103 


53 


59 


65 


74 


82 


30 


55 


65 


74 


83 


93 


107 


121 


62 


69 


76 


86 


96 


35 


63 


73 


84 


95 


105 


121 


137 


70 


78 


86 


97 


108 


40 


70 


82 


94 


106 


118 


135 


153 


79 


87 


95 


108 


121 


45 


78 


9i 


104 


117 


130 


150 


169 


88 


98 


107 


121 


135 


50 


86 


100 


114 


128 


142 


164 


185 


96 


107 


117 


132 


U7 


55 


93 


109 


124 


139 


155 


I 7 8 


201 


i5 


116 


127 


143 


1 60 


60 


101 


117 


134 


151 


167 


192 


217 


114 


126 


138 


156 


174 


65 


108 


126 


144 


162 


1 80 


206 


233 


122 


135 


148 


I6 7 


186 


70 


116 


135 


154 


173 


192 


221 


249 


130 


144 


157 


I 7 8 


198 


75 


124 


144 


165 


i85 


206 


2 3 6 


267 


138 


153 


167 


189 


2IO 


80 


131 


153 


174 


195 


217 


249 


28l 


147 


163 


178 


201 


224 


85 


139 


161 


184 


207 


229 


263 


297 


156 


172 


188 


212 


237 


90 


146 


170 


194 


218 


242 


277 


313 


164 


181 


198 


224 


249 


95 


154 


178 


203 


228 


253 


290 





172 


190 


208 


235 


26l 


100 



388 



FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 



SMOOTH NOZZLE. 



Nozzle Pressure 
o Indicated by 
Pitot Gage 


Discharge, Gallons 
per Minute 


PRESSURES REQUIRED AT HYDRANT OR FIRE 
PRESSURES GIVEN IN FIRST COLUMN, 

2^- AND 3-INCH 


Single 2^-inch Lines 


IOO 

Feet 


200 

Feet 


300 

Feet 


4OO 

Feet 


500 

Feet 


6OO 

Feet 


700 

Feet 

96 


800 

Feet 


1,000 

Feet 


1,200 

Feet 


206 


32 


42 


53 


64 


75 


85 


107 


128 


149 


25 


230 


40 


53 


66 


79 


92 


105 


118 


131 


158 


184 


30 


253 


48 


63 


79 


95 


no 


126 


142 


157 


189 


220 


35 


273 


55 


73 


9i 


109 


127 


145 


163 


181 


217 


253 


40 


292 


63 


83 


104 


124 


144 


165 


185 


206 


246 


28 7 


45 


309 


70 


93 


116 


138 


161 


183 


206 


229 


274 


319 


50 


326 


78 


103 


128 


153 


178 


203 


228 


253 


303 





55 
60 

65 
70 

75 
80 

85 
90 

95 

IOO 


342 
357 
372 
386 

399 
413 

438 
461 


86 
93 

101 

108 
116 
124 

139 
146 

153 


123 

142 
152 
163 
172 
182 
191 

201 


140 

152 
164 
176 
188 

201 
213 
225 
236 
2 4 8 


167 
182 
196 

210 
224 
240 

254 
269 
282 
295 


194 

211 
228 
244 
26l 
279 

312 

327 


222 
241 
260 

297 
318 


249 
270 

202 
3 I2 

333 


276 
300 
323 


33 












































































APPENDIX 



389 



- AND 3-INCH HOSE. 



ENGINE, WHILE STREAM is FLOWING, TO MAINTAIN NOZZLE 


, 


THROUGH VARIOUS LENGTHS OF BEST QUALITY 


H8> 


RUBBER LINED HOSE 









& Q 


Single 3-inch Lines 


Two 2^-inch Lines 
Siamesed 


$& 

j? 




























'N IB 


400 

Ft. 


600 
Ft. 


800 

Ft. 


1,000 

Feet 


I,20O 

Feet 


1,500 

Feet 


1, 800 
Feet 


600 

Ft. 


800 
Ft. 


1,000 
Feet 


I,2OO 

Feet 


1,500 

Feet 


i, 800 

Feet 


S ^ 

oJ 

^ 


37 


46 


54 


62 


70 


83 


95 


39 


45 


51 


57 


67 


76 


20 


47 


57 


67 


77 


87 


102 


117 


48 


55 


62 


70 


80 


91 


25 


56 


68 


81 


93 


105 


123 


142 


57 


66 


74 


83 


96 


109 


30 


65 


79 


92 


106 


120 


141 


161 


66 


76 


86 


95 


no 


125 


35 


74 


89 


105 


120 


136 


159 


183 


75 


87 


99 


. no 


127 


144 


40 


83 


IOO 


117 


135 


152 


I 7 8 


204 


84 


96 


109 


121 


140 


158 


45 


9i 


in 


130 


149 


168 


I 97 


226 


93 


107 


121 


135 


155 


I7 6 


50 


IOO 


121 


142 


163 


184 


216 


247 


102 


117 


132 


147 


169 


192 


55 


109 


132 


155 


178 


201 


235 


270 


III 


128 


144 


1 60 


185 


210 


60 


118 


U3 


167 


192 


217 


254 


291 


120 


137 


155 


173 


199 


225 


65 


127 


154 


180 


206 


233 


272 





129 


147 


166 


185 


213 


241 


70 


136 


164 


192 


220 


248 


290 




137 


157 


177 


197 


227 


257 


75 


14 "? 


17"? 


2o< 


21$ 


26^ 






147 


160 


IOO 


212 


244 


276 


80 


"O 

153 


/ o 

184 


** v j 
216 


O D 
247 


W J 

279 






^ / 

156 


;/ 

179 


y 

2OI 


224 


258 


/ 

292 


85 






162 


195 


228 


26l 


295 






165 


189 


213 


237 


273 


309 


90 






170 


205 


240 


275 








173 


198 


223 


248 


286 


323 


95 








179 


215 


252 


288 








182 


208 


235 


26l 


300 





IOO 









390 



FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

SMOOTH NOZZLE. 



*5 <u 
3% 

|| 

Is 


l| 

3 


PRESSURES REQUIRED AT HYDRANT OR FIRE 
NOZZLE PRESSURES GIVEN IN FIRST 
QUALITY 2^- AND 


Single 2 ^2-inch Lines 




100 

Feet 


200 

Feet 


300 
Feet 


400 
Feet 


500 
Feet 


6OO 

Feet 


700 

Feet 


800 

Feet 


200 

Feet 


4OO 

Feet 


20 


250 


37 


52 


68 


83 


9 8 


"3 


128 


144 


34 


45 


25 


280 


46 


64 


83 


102 


121 


139 


158 


177 


41 


56 


30 


307 


55 


77 


99 


121 


144 


166 


188 


210 


50 


67 


35 


331 


64 


89 


H5 


140 


166 


191 


217 


242 


58 


78 


40 


354 


73 


IO2 


131 


1 60 


189 


218 


247 


276 


67 


89 


45 


376 


81 


114 


146 


I 7 8 


211 


243 


275 


307 


74 


99 


50 


396 


90 


125 


161 


196 


222 


257 


293 


328 


82 


109 


55 
60 

65 
70 

75 
80 

85 
90 

95 

100 


434 

469 

485 
500 

5i6 
531 
546 

560 


99 
107 
116 
125 

142 

159 
168 

177 


137 
149 
161 
173 

196 
209 
220 
232 
244 


176 
191 
206 

222 
237 
251 
267 
28l 

297 
312 


215 
233 

270 
289 
305 
325 


254 
276 

297 
319 


292 


331 




90 

98 
106 

114 

122 
130 

138 
146 

153 
l62 


121 

141 

152 

172 

183 
194 
203 
215 









































































APPENDIX 



39i 



J- AND 3-INCH HOSE 



ENGINE, WHILE STREAM is FLOWING, TO MAINTAIN 
COLUMN, THROUGH VARIOUS LENGTHS OF BEST 
3-iNCH RUBBER LINED HOSE 


3 <u 

<u 

T4 O 

to *"* 

| 

.0 
JH *& 

" cfl 
O y 


Single 3-inch Lines 


Two 2^-inch Lines Siamesed 


600 

Ft. 


8OO 

Feet 


I,OOO 

Feet 


1,200 

Feet 


1,500 
Feet 


400 

Feet 


600 

Feet 


800 
Feet 


1,000 
Feet 


1 ,2OO 

Feet 


1,500 
Feet 


1, 800 
Feet 


57 


68 


80 


92 


109 


37 


46 


54 


63 


71 


84 


96 


2O 


70 


85 


99 


"3 


135 


46 


57 


6 7 


78 


88 


104 


119 


25 


84 


101 


118 


135 


161 


56 


68 


81 


93 


106 


124 


143 


30 


97 


117 


137 


157 


187 


65 


80 


94 


108 


122 


143 


165 


35 


112 


134 


157 


180 


214 


74 


90 


1 06 


122 


138 


162 


186 


40 


125 


150 


175 


200 


238 


83 


IOI 


119 


137 


155 


182 


209 


45 


137 


164 


192 


220 


267 


92 


in 


131 


151 


171 


2OI 


230 


50 


ISI 


182 


212 


242 


288 


100 


122 


144 


165 


I8 7 


219 


252 


55 


163 


196 


229 


262 


. . . . 


109 


133 


156 


1 80 


203 


238 


273 


60 


177 


212 


247 


282 





118 


U3 


168 


194 


219 


257 


294 


65 


189 
203 

215 
22Q 
241 

254 
267 


227 
243 
257 
274 
289 
304 


265 
283 
300 


303 





128 
137 
US 
153 
162 
170 
179 


155 
165 
175 

186 
196 
206 
217 


182 
194 
206 
218 
230 
241 
254 


209 
223 
236 
250 
264 

277 
291 


236 

252 
266 
282 
298 
313 
329 


277 

295 
312 

331 


317 


70 

75 
80 

85 
90 

95 

IOO 

















































392 






FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

SMOOTH NOZZLE. 



It 
gS 

|s 

Q-i fc"" 

,Q 

^'g 
N ^j 

8 ca 



1 
If 

aT'^3 
ffc 

3 


PRESSURES REQUIRED AT HYDRANT OR FIRE 
NOZZLE PRESSURES GIVEN IN FIRST 
QUALITY 2^- AND 


Single 2^2-inch Lines 


Single 


IOO 

Feet 


200 

Feet 


300 
Feet 


400 
Feet 


500 
Feet 


600 

Feet 


700 

Feet 


800 

Feet 


200 
Feet 


4OO 

Feet 


600 

Feet 


20 

25 
30 

35 
40 

45 
50 
55 
60 

65 
70 

75 
80 

85 
90 

95 

100 


298 

333 
365 
394 
422 

447 
472 

494 
517 
537 
558 
578 
596 
614 

633 
6 5 o 
667 


44 
54 
65 
75 
85 
96 
106 
116 
126 
136 
146 
156 
166 
176 
187 
197 
207 


65 
80 

95 
no 
126 
141 

155 
170 
184 
198 
213 
228 
242 

257 
272 
286 
300 


86 
106 
126 

145 
166 

185 
205 
224 
242 
261 
281 
299 
3i8 
337 


107 
132 

157 
181 
206 
230 

254 
278 
301 
324 


128 
158 
188 
216 
246 
275 
304 
332 


149 
184 

219 

251 
286 
320 


170 

210 
250 
287 
327 


191 
236 
280 
322 


39 
48 

58 
6 7 
7 6 

85 
95 
104 

H3 

122 

131 
140 

149 
158 
I6 7 
I 7 6 

185 


55 
68 
81 

94 

107 

I2O 
133 
145 
158 
170 

183 
196 
208 
22O 
233 
245 
257 


71 

88 

105 

122 

139 
155 
171 

I8 7 

203 

218 

235 
251 
267 
282 
298 
314 















































































































APPENDIX 
AND 3-INCH HOSE. 



393 



ENGINE, WHILE STREAM is FLOWING, TO MAINTAIN 


- o> 


COLUMN, THROUGH VARIOUS LENGTHS OF BEST 


o > 


3-iNCH RUBBER LINED HOSE 


Jo 




3 ** 






tn Q 


3-inch Lines 


Two 2^2-inch Lines Siamesed 


^ 









800 
Feet 


1,000 

Feet 


1,200 

Feet 


1,500 
Feet 


200 

Feet 


400 

Feet 


600 

Feet 


800 
Feet 


1,000 
Feet 


I,2OO 

Feet 


1,500 
Feet 


1.800 

Feet 


cated 1 


87 


104 


I2O 


144 


33 


45 


56 


68 


79 


91 


108 


126 


20 


108 


128 


148 


I 7 8 


41 


56 


70 


84 


99 


"3 


135 


156 


25 


129 


153 


177 


212 


49 


66 


83 


IOO 


117 


134 


1 60 


185 


30 


149 


177 


204 


245 


57 


77 


96 


116 


135 


155 


184 


214 


35 


170 


201 


232 


279 


65 


88 


no 


132 


155 


177 


211 


244 


40 


189 


224 


258 





73 


97 


122 


146 


171 


196 


233 


269 


45 


209 


247 


286 





81 


108 


136 


163 


190 


218 


259 


300 


50 


228 


2 7O 






88 


TT8 


118 


178 


208 


237 


282 


327 


55 


248 


293 






96 


128 


161 


193 


225 


257 


305 




60 






267 








104. 


I 3Q 


m l 


208 


24.3 


?7* 






65 


2 8 7 








112 


149 


186 


223 


261 


298 






70 












307 








I2O 


160 


IOO 


230 


270 


310 






75 










127 


I7O 


212 


2C4 


206 








80 










*~t 

J2 C 


* / w 
170 


224 


*0*t 

?68 


313 








85 












IOO 


237 


?8i 










no 










152 


*aH* 
201 


*o/ 
251 


30i 










95 


























1 60 


212 


264 


316 










IOO 



















394 



FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

i^-INCH SMOOTH NOZZLE. 



^* 


H CJ 

s 


PRESSURES REQUIRED AT HYDRANT OR FIRE 
NOZZLE PRESSURES GIVEN IN FIRST 
QUALITY 2%- AND 


Single 2^-inch Lines 


Single 3-inch 


100 

Feet 


200 

Feet 


300 

Feet 


400 

Feet 


500 

Feet 


600 

Feet 


200 

Feet 


400 

Feet 


600 
Feet 


800 
Feet 


20 

25 
30 

35 
40 

45 
50 

55 
60 

65 
70 

75 
80 

85 
90 

95 

100 


350 
392 
429 

463 

496 
525 

554 

607 
631 

655 
678 
700 
722 
743 
763 
783 


52 
65 
77 
89 

IOI 

125 

137 
149 
162 

173 
184 
197 
209 
220 
232 
244 


80 
100 

118 
136 
155 
173 
192 

210 
228 
246 
263 
28l 
299 
317 


1 08 

135 
1 60 
184 
208 

233 
258 
282 
306 
330 


136 
170 

2OI 

231 
262 

293 
324 


165 
205 
242 

279 


193 
240 
284 
326 


46 

57 

68 

78 
89 

100 

in 

121 
132 
143 
153 

174 
184 

20$ 

216 


68 
84 
100 

115 

146 
162 

178 

193 

209 
223 
237 
253 

269 
299 


90 
ill 
132 
152 
173 
193 
214 

234 

254 

275 
294 
312 


112 

138 
164 
189 
215 

239 
265 
290 















































































































APPENDIX 
- AND 3-INCH HOSE. 



395 



ENGINE, WHILE STREAM is FLOWING, TO MAINTAIN 
COLUMN, THROUGH VARIOUS LENGTHS OF BEST 
3-iNCH RUBBER LINED HOSE 


i 


Lines 


Two 2^-inch Lines Siamesed 


1,000 

Feet 


1,200 
Feet 


200 

Feet 


400 
Feet 


600 
Feet 


800 
Feet 


I,OOO 

Feet 


1,200 
Feet 


1,500 
Feet 


i, 800 
Feet 


134 
165 
196 
226 

257 
286 


156 
192 
228 
263 
299 


37 
47 
56 
65 
74 
82 

9i 

IOO 

109 
118 
126 

153 

170 
179 


53 
66 

79 

9 1 
104 

116 
128 
140 

153 
164 
176 
189 

201 

237 
249 


68 
85 

IO2 
117 

134 
149 

181 
196 

211 

226 
242 

2 S 8 

289 

33 


84 
104 

125 
144 
164 
182 

202 
221 
240 

276 


IOO 

"3 
148 
170 
194 

261 
326 


"5 
H3 
171 
197 
224 
248 

327 


139 
171 
205 
236 
269 
298 


162 

200 

240 
276 
314 


2O 

25 
30 
35 
40 

45 
50 

55 
60 

65 
70 
75 
80 

85 
90 

95 

IOO 































































































































396 



FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 



i^-INCH SMOOTH NOZZLE. 



Is 


0) 



PRESSURES REQUIRED AT HYDRANT OR FIRE 
NOZZLE PRESSURES GIVEN IN FIRST 





13 


QUALITY 2}^- AND 


a o 

co *-* 


og 






K 

fit * 


oj <l) 


Simgle 234-inch 
Lines 


Single 3-inch 


3 

8 


I 


IOO 


2OO 


300 


400 


IOO 


200 


300 


400 


500 


6OO 


55 




Feet 


Feet 


Feet 


Feet 


Feet 


Feet 


Feet 


Feet 


Feet 


Feet 


2O 


407 


63 


IOO 


138 


175 


40 


55 


71 


86 


IOI 


116 


25 


455 


77 


123 


169 


215 


49 


6 7 


84 


102 


120 


138 


30 


498 


9i 


145 


199 


253 


58 


79 


IOO 


121 


142 


163 


35 


538 


106 


169 


231 


294 


68 


92 


117 


141 


166 


190 


40 


575 


I2O 


191 


262 


333 


77 


104 


132 


159 


187 


215 


45 


609 


135 


215 


294 





87 


118 


149 


180 


211 


241 


50 


643 


150 


237 


325 





96 


130 


164 


199 


233 


267 


55 


674 


164 


259 






105 


142 


179 


216 


254 


291 






60 


704 


177 


280 






114 


154 


194 


234 


274 


3U 






65 


732 


191 


302 






123 


166 


209 


252 


2 9 6 









70 


761 


206 


325 






133 


180 


227 


273 














75 


787 


22O 








14,3 


102 


242 


201 






80 


8i 3 


234 








152 


204 


257 


309 
















85 


s^s 


247 








1 60 


2I< 


27O 








90 


862 


26l 








169 


228 


286 




















95 


88q 


274. 








T78 


24O 


3OI 








100 


909 










188 


253 


317 























APPENDIX 
AND 3-INCH HOSE. 



397 



ENGINE, WHILE STREAM is FLOWING, TO MAINTAIN 
COLUMN, THROUGH VARIOUS LENGTHS OF BEST 
3-iNCH RUBBER LINED HOSE 


ii 

~0 

|l 
* 

|1 


Lines 


Two 2^-inch Lines Siamesed 


800 
Feet 


1,000 

Feet 


IOO 

Feet 


200 

Feet 


300 

Feet 


400 

Feet 


500 
Feet 


600 

Feet 


800 

Feet 


I,OOO 

Feet 


1,200 
Feet 


147 

173 
205 

239 
270 

303 


177 

209 

247 
288 

325 


33 
40 

49 
56 
64 

73 
80 
88 
96 
104 
in 
118 
127 

135 
142 

150 

158 


43 
53 
64 
74 
84 

95 
104 

114 
125 
134 
144 

153 
164 

174 
183 
194 
204 


53 
65 
79 
9i 
103 
117 
128 
140 
153 
165 
177 
188 

201 
214 
225 

237 
250 


64 
78 
94 
109 
123 

139 

152 
167 
182 
195 

210 

223 
239 
253 
266 
28l 
296 


74 
91 
no 
126 

143 
161 
177 
193 

210 

226 

243 
258 
276 

293 
308 


84 
103 

125 

143 
162 

183 

201 
219 
239 
257 
275 
293 
313 


105 
128 

155 

I 7 8 

201 
227 
249 
272 

29 6 
318 


125 
154 
I8 5 
213 
241 
271 
297 
324 


146 
179 

215 
248 
280 
315 


20 

25 
30 

35 
40 

45 
50 

55 
60 

65 
70 

75 
80 

85 
90 

95 

^100 







































































































398 



FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 



2-INCH SMOOTH NOZZLE. 



i| 
"$ 

5i "*"* 

g 

Qj ^* 

xj 

3*8 
o ** 

I s 


i 

1! 
ft 

y Q 

3 


PRESSURES REQUIRED AT HYDRANT OR FIRE 
NOZZLE PRESSURES GIVEN IN FIRST 
QUALITY 2^- AND 


Single 2^-inch 
Lines 


Single 3-inch Lines 


IOO 

Feet 


200 

Feet 


300 

Feet 


IOO 

Feet 


200 

Feet 


300 
Feet 


400 
Feet 


Feet 


20 
25 
30 

35 
40 

45 
50 
55 
60 

65 
70 

75 
80 

85 
90 

95 

100 


532 

594 
651 
703 
752 
797 
841 
881 
920 

958 
994 
1,029 
1,063 

i,09S 
1,128 

1,158 
1,189 


90 
ill 

132 
152 

173 
193 
214 


152 
187 
222 

255 
290 

323 


214 
263 
3" 


52 
65 
77 
89 

102 

"3 

126 

138 

150 
162 

175 

187 

199 

211 
223 
235 
247 


76 
94 

112 
129 

H7 
I6 3 
182 
199 

216 

233 
251 
268 

285 

302 
319 

335 


IOO 

123 

147 
169 

193 
213 
237 
260 
282 
304 
327 


124 

152 
181 
209 
238 
263 
293 
321 


148 
182 
216 

249 
283 

3U 



























































































































APPENDIX 
AND 3-INCH HOSE. 



399 



ENGINE, WHILE STREAM is FLOWING, TO MAINTAIN 
COLUMN, THROUGH VARIOUS LENGTHS OF BEST 
3-iNCH RUBBER LINED HOSE 


Nozzle Pressure Indi- 
cated by Pitot Gage. 




Two 2 ^2-inch Lines Siamesed 


600 

Feet 


800 
Feet 


IOO 

Feet 


200 

Feet 


300 

Feet 


400 
Feet 


J 

Feet 


600 
Feet 


800 
Feet 


1,000 

Feet 


172 

211 

251 
289 


220 
270 
321 


41 

51 
61 

7i 
81 
90 

IOO 

no 

119 
129 

139 
148 

158 
167 

177 

186 
196 


58 
72 
86 

IOO 

"3 

126 
140 

153 
166 
1 80 

193 

206 
219 
232 
245 
258 
272 


75 
93 
no 
128 
146 
162 
180 
197 

213 
230 
248 
264 
280 
297 
3H 


92 
114 

135 
157 
I 7 8 
198 
220 
24O 
26O 
28l 
302 
322 


no 

135 

160 
186 

211 

234 
260 
284 
308 


127 
156 
185 
214 
243 
270 
300 


161 
198 

234 
271 
308 


195 

240 

284 
329 


20 
*5 

30 

35 
40 

45 
50 

55 
60 

65 
70 
75 
80 

85 
90 

95 

IOO 























































































































































400 



FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 



iJ-INCH SMOOTH NOZZLE. 3 K-INCH HOSE. 



ii 

VH CO 


i 


PRESSURES REQUIRED AT HYDRANT OR FIRE 


if 


I |QJ 


3 a) 


ENGINE, WHILE STREAM is FLOWING, TO MAIN- 




15 


o^ 


TAIN NOZZLE PRESSURES GIVEN IN FIRST COL- 


is 


& 


mM 


UMN, THROUGH VARIOUS LENGTHS OF BEST 




<u PM 


j&<5 


QUALITY S^-INCH RUBBER LINED HOSE. 


C tl 


|| 


J3 <3 
o Cb 

a 




ll 


600 

Feet 


700 

Feet 


800 

Feet 


900 

Feet 


1,000 

Feet 


1,200 

Feet 


1,500 

Feet 


1, 800 

Feet 


20 


206 


32 


34 


36 


37 


39 


43 


49 


55 


20 


25 


230 


39 


42 


44 


46 


48 


53 


60 


67 


2 5 


30 


253 


47 


49 


52 


55 


58 


63 


7i 


79 


30 


35 


273 


54 


57 


60 


64 


67 


73 


82 


9i 


25 


40 


292 


62 


65 


69 


72 


76 


83 


93 


104 


40 


45 


309 


69 


73 


77 


81 


85 


93 


104 


116 


45 


50 


326 


77 


81 


85 


90 


94 


102 


"5 


128 


50 


55 


342 


84 


89 


94 


99 


103 


112 


126 


141 


55 


60 


357 


92 


97 


102 


107 


112 


122 


137 


153 


60 


65 


372 


99 


105 


no 


116 


121 


132 


149 


165 


65 


70 


386 


107 


"3 


118 


124 


I 3 


142 


1 60 


177 


70 


75 


399 


114 


120 


127 


133 


139 


152 


171 


190 


75 


80 


4i3 


122 


128 


135 


142 


148 


162 


182 


202 


80 


85 


425 


128 


135 


142 


149 


156 


170 


191 


212 


85 


90 


438 


136 


143 


i5i 


158 


165 


1 80 


202 


225 


90 


95 


449 


143 


151 


159 


167 


175 


190 


214 


237 


95 


100 


461 


1SI 


159 


167 


175 


184 


200 


225 


249 


100 



APPENDIX 401 

i^-INCH SMOOTH NOZZLE. 3 ^-INCH HOSE. 



1 Nozzle Pressure Indi- 
cated by Pitot Gage 


to 

a 


PRESSURES REQUIRED AT HYDRANT OR FIRE EN- 
GINE, WHILE STREAM IS FLOWING, TO MAINTAIN NOZ- 

ZLE PRESSURES GIVEN IN FIRST COLUMN, THROUGH 
VARIOUS LENGTHS OF BEST QUALITY 3^-iNCH RUB- 
BER LINED HOSE 


Nozzle Pressure Indi-! 
cated by Pitot Gage (I 


400 

Feet 


Feet 


600 

Feet 


700 
Feet 


800 
Feet 


1,000 

Feet 


1,200 
Feet 


1,500 

Feet 


1, 800 
Feet 


20 


250 


31 


34 


36 


39 


41 


47 


52 


60 


6 7 


20 


25 


280 


39 


42 


45 


49 


52 


59 


65 


75 


85 


25 


30 


307 


46 


50 


54 


58 


62 


70 


78 


89 


101 


30 


35 


331 


54 


58 


63 


67 


72 


81 


90 


103 


117 


35 


40 


354 


61 


66 


7i 


76 


81 


9i 


101 


116 


i3i 


40 


45 


376 


69 


74 


80 


85 


9i 


102 


"3 


130 


147 


45 


50 


396 


76 


82 


88 


95 


101 


H3 


126 


144 


163 


50 


55 


4i5 


84 


90 


97 


104 


in 


124 


138 


158 


179 


55 


60 


434 


9i 


98 


106 


"3 


121 


135 


150 


172 


195 


60 


65 


45i 


98 


1 06 


114 


122 


130 


146 


161 


185 


209 


65 


70 


469 


1 06 


114 


123 


131 


140 


157 


174 


199 


225 


70 


75 


485 


"3 


122 


131 


140 


149 


167 


185 


212 


239 


75 


80 


500 


I2O 


130 


140 


149 


159 


178 


197 


226 


255 


80 


85 


Si6 


127 


138 


148 


158 


168 


188 


208 


239 


269 


85 


90 


$31 


135 


I 4 6 


156 


I6 7 


178 


199 


221 


253 


285 


90 


95 


S46 


142 


153 


165 


I 7 6 


187 


209 


232 


266 


299 


95 


100 


560 


150 


* 


173 


185 


197 


220 


244 


279 


315 


100 



402 



FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 
SMOOTH NOZZLE. 3 M-INCH HOSE. 



Nozzle Pressure Indi- 
cated by Pitot Gage 


w 

a 

oj 

J3 & 

o CX 


PEESSURES REQUIRED AT HYDRANT OR FIRE 
ENGINE, WHILE STREAM is FLOWING, TO MAIN- 
AIN NOZZLE PRESSURES GIVEN IN FIRST COL- 
UMN, THROUGH VARIOUS LENGTHS OF BEST 

QUALITY 3^-iNCH RUBBER LINED HOSE 


Nozzle Pressure Indi- 
cated by Pitot Gage 


200 

Feet 


400 

Feet 


600 

Feet 


800 

Feet 


,OOO 

Feet 


,200 

Feet 


,500 

Feet 


,800 

Feet 


20 


298 


28 


36 


43 


50 


58 


65 


76 


87 


20 


25 


333 


35 


44 


53 


62 


71 


80 


93 


107 


25 


30 


365 


42 


53 


63 


74 


85 


96 


112 


128 


30 


35 


394 


49 


61 


73 


86 


98 


III 


I2 9 


148 


35 


40 


422 


55 


69 


83 


97 


in 


125 


146 


167 


40 


45 


447 


62 


78 


93 


109 


125 


140 


164 


187 


45 


50 


472 


69 


86 


103 


121 


138 


155 


181 


207 


50 


55 


494 


76 


94 


"3 


132 


151 


170 


198 


226 


55 


60 


517 


82 


IO2 


123 


143 


163 


183 


214 


244 


60 


65 


537 


89 


III 


133 


154 


176 


I 9 8 


231 


263 


65 


70 


558 


96 


119 


143 


166 


189 


213 


248 


283 


70 


75 


578 


103 


128 


153 


178 


203 


228 


265 


303 


75 


80 


596 


109 


136 


162 


188 


215 


241 


281 




80 


85 
90 

95 

100 


614 

633 
650 
667 


116 
123 
129 
136 


144 

152 
1 60 

168 


172 
182 
191 

201 


200 
211 
222 
233 


228 
241 

253 
265 


2 S 6 
271 
284 
298 


298 




85 
90 

95 

100 















APPENDIX 403 

i%-INCH SMOOTH NOZZLE. 3^-INCH HOSE. 



Nozzle Pressure Indi- 
cated by Pitot Gage 


g v 

o| 

It 


PRESSURES REQUIRED AT HYDRANT OR FIRE EN- 
GINE, WHILE STREAM IS FLOWING, TO MAINTAIN NOZ- 

ZLE PRESSURES GIVEN IN FIRST COLUMN, THROUGH 
VARIOUS LENGTHS OF BEST QUALITY 3^-iNCH RUB- 
BER LINED HOSE. 


Nozzle Pressure Indi- 
cated by Pitot Gage | 


IOO 

Feet 


2OO 

Feet 


300 

Feet 


400 

Feet 


500 

Feet 


600 

Feet 


800 

Feet 


1,000 

Feet 


1,200 
Feet 


2O 


407 


28 


35 


41 


48 


54 


61 


74 


87 


IOI 


20 


25 


455 


35 


43 


51 


59 


6 7 


75 


91 


107 


123 


25 


30 


498 


4i 


51 


60 


70 


79 


89 


108 


127 


146 


30 


35 


538 


48 


59 


70 


81 


92 


103 


124 


146 


168 


35 


40 


575 


55 


67 


80 


92 


105 


117 


142 


167 


191 


40 


45 


609 


62 


75 


89 


103 


117 


131 


158 


186 


213 


45 


So 


643 


68 


84 


99 


"5 


130 


145 


176 


206 


237 


50 


55 


674 


75 


92 


109 


125 


142 


159 


192 


225 


259 


55 


60 


704 


82 


IOO 


118 


136 


154 


172 


208 


244 


280 


60 


65 


732 


89 


108 


127 


147 


166 


186 


224 


263 


302 


65 


70 


761 


95 


116 


137 


158 


178 


199 


241 


282 





70 


75. 


787 


IO2 


124 


146 


168 


190 


212 


257 


301 





75 


80 

85 
90 
95 

IOO 


813 
838 
862 
885 
909 


I0 9 

"5 

122 
128 

135 


132 

140 
148 
156 
164 


156 
165 
174 
183 
193 


179 
190 

200 
211 
222 


203 

214 
227 
238 
251 


226 
239 
253 
266 
280 


273 
289 

305 


320 





80 

85 
90 

95 
zoo 























404 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

i^g-INCH SMOOTH NOZZLE. 3 ^-INCH HOSE. 



ii 


to 


PRESSURES REQUIRED AT HYDRANT OR FIRE 


11 


^o 


H <U 


ENGINE, WHILE STREAM is FLOWING, TO MAIN- 


1 <Q 


1 o 


$ 3 


TAIN NOZZLE PRESSURES GIVEN IN FIRST COL- 


%+* 

r3 O 


CO *-* 


~.S 


UMN, THROUGH VARIOUS LENGTHS OF BEST 


-> 


B 


w 


QUALITY 3^-iNCH RUBBER LINED HOSE. 


801 


if 


JH CD 

s 




0) . 

3*2 
1 


200 


4OO 


600 


800 


1,000 


1,200 


1,500 


i, 800 


8 


M 


Feet 


Feet 


Feet 


Feet 


Feet 


Feet 


Feet 


Feet 




20 


350 


31 


41 


50 


60 


70 


80 


94 


109 


20 


25 


392 


38 


51 


63 


75 


87 


99 


118 


136 


25 


30 


429 


46 


60 


75 


89 


103 


118 


139 


161 


30 


35 


463 


53 


70 


86 


103 


120 


136 


161 


186 


35 


40 


496 


61 


79 


98 


117 


136 


155 


183 


211 


40 


45 


525 


68 


89 


no 


131 


Itf 


173 


205 


236 


45 


50 


554 


76 


99 


122 


145 


168 


192 


226 


26l 


50 


55 


58i 


83 


108 


133 


158 


184 


209 


247 


284 


55 


60 


607 


90 


117 


144 


172 


199 


226 


267 


308 


60 


65 


631 


97 


127 


156 


186 


215 


244 


289 





65 


70 


655 


105 


136 


I6 7 


199 


230 


262 


309 





70 


75 


678 


112 


145 


179 


212 


245 


279 






75 






80 


700 


no 




IQI 


226 


262 


2Q7 






80 


85 


/ 

722 


7 
127 


165 


7 
202 


240 


278 


V / 

316 






85 






90 


743 


134 


174 


214 


254 


294 








90 








95 


763 


141 


183 




267 


2QO 








Q5 


3^w 

100 


/ \J 

783 


^ 

149 


o 

193 


237 


S.W 1 

281 


o y 








2r*J 

100 











APPENDIX 
2-INCH SMOOTH NOZZLE. 3 ^-INCH HOSE. 



405 



ii 


Cfi 




PRESSURES REQUIRED AT HYDRANT OR FIRE 


11 


HHQ 


3 <U 


ENGINE, WHILE STREAM is FLOWING, TO MAIN- 


I ~'O 





11 


TAIN NOZZLE PRESSURES GIVEN IN FIRST COL- 


lo 


W .t2 


w G 


UMN, THROUGH VARIOUS LENGTHS OF BEST 


<a 


<UPL| 


P 


QUALITY 3^-iNCH RUBBER LINED HOSE. 


P*i 


rQ 


CTJ |r* 




J3 


fT3 


'S a 


















S-8 


rrt 




3 


100 

Feet 


2OO 

Feet 


300 

Feet 


4OO 

Feet 


500 

Feet 


600 

Feet 


800 
Feet 


1,000 

Feet 


S^ 

%z 


20 


532 


33 


44 


55 


65 


7 6 


87 


109 


130 


20 


25 


594 


4i 


54 


6 7 


80 


93 


106 


133 


159 


25 


30 


651 


49 


64 


80 


96 


in 


127 


158 


189 


30 


35 


703 


57 


75 


93 


III 


129 


147 


183 


219 


35 


40 


752 


65 


85 


105 


126 


146 


1 66 


207 


247 


40 


45 


797 


72 


95 


118 


140 


163 


185 


231 


276 


45 


50 


841 


80 


105 


130 


155 


180 


205 


255 


305 


50 


55 


881 


88 


116 


143 


170 


197 


225 


279 





55 


60 


920 


96 


126 


155 


185 


214 


244 


303 





60 


65 


958 


104 


136 


168 


2OO 


232 


263 






65 






70 


994 


112 


146 


1 80 


214 


248 


282 






70 


/ 

75 


1,029 


119 


x *T vy 
156 


192 


m j.*|. 
229 


m ^r* 
265 


301 






9 

75 






80 


i 06^ 


127 


166 




242 


282 








80 


85 


1,095 


*" / 
135 


I7 6 


217 


* to 

258 


299 








85 








go 


1,128 


14.7 


186 


220 


272 










90 


3r 

95 


I,ic8 


T'O 

ICI 


106 


t*y 


*, f * 
286 










*r 

95 


-r*J 

100 


> o 
1,189 


*3* 

158 


A y w 
206 


253 


301 










jrw 

100 











406 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

As fire-fighting is not and probably will never be an 
exact science, the following rules are given as a guide to 
men who may not have had the advantage of a higher 
mathematical education. It is not claimed that these rules 
are absolutely correct but they are sufficiently accurate to 
be of practical value and can easily be understood by any 
man in the fire service of any country. 

1. For placing of ladders. 

In placing an extension ladder, the hub of front wheel 
should be placed opposite centre of window, and when 
placed at proper distance from base of building, extended 
so as to be i ft. and 3 inches over the window sill and i ft. 
from the building. The foot of ladder should be placed 
according to following rule : 

Divide length of ladder in feet by 5 and add 2. 

The point of ladder should not rest against the building, 
but should be about one foot from it. 

2. For obtaining discharge in gallons, when nozzle pres- 
sure is given. 

Square diameter of nozzle. 

Multiply above product by the average barometric pres- 
sure 29.9. 

Then multiply this by the square root of the nozzle 
pressure. 

Example: 

What would be the discharge of a ij^-inch nozzle work- 
ing at 100 Ibs. pressure? 

1.5X1.5 equals 2.25. 

2.25X29.9 equals 67.275. 

The square root of 100 is 10. 

67X10 equals 670 gallons discharge. 

3. For determining number of lengths of hose required 
when location of fire is known in building. 

i length of hose for each story and i length for good 
measure. 



APPENDIX 407 

Example: 

How many lengths would be required to stretch to the 
7th story. 

7 lengths for height and I length to cover floor or 8 
lengths. 

4. For obtaining pressure required to deliver water at 
any given point in a stand-pipe. 

Multiply height in feet by constant .434 and add 25 Ibs. 
for friction. (5 Ibs. for entry in Siamese connection, 10 
Ibs. for loss in passing through swing check, and 10 Ibs. 
for outlet valve.) 

Example: 

What pressure would be required to deliver water to 
outlet on 1 2th floor or at 150 feet? 

15 X 434 equals 65 Ibs. 

65 plus 25 Ibs. for friction equals 90 Ibs. pressure re- 
quired to deliver water at that point. (To this must be 
added the nozzle pressure desired.) 

5. For obtaining pressure exerted by water dropping 
from a tank through a stand-pipe at any given point. 

Divide drop in feet by constant 2.31. 

Example: 

What pressure would there be at an outlet on ground 
floor from a tank located 150 ft. above? (150 divided by 
2.31=65 Ibs.) 

6. For obtaining the friction in hose. 

Friction loss in hose is controlled by the amount of flow, 
and is calculated as of 100 ft. lengths. 

Loss in 3>i" hose. 

For a flow of 500 to 1,200 gallons per minute. 

The loss for first 500 gallons is 9.5 Ibs. and for each 
10 gallons over up to 1,200 add .6 of a Ib. 

Example: 

What would be the loss in 100 ft. of 3J4" hose discharg- 
ing 800 gallons per minute? 



4o8 FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

For first 500 gallons would be 9.5 Ibs. and for the 300 
gallons over (which is 30X10), should be added 3OX-6 
or 1 8 Ibs. to the 9.5, which would be 27.5 Ibs. loss in 
friction. 

Loss in 3" hose. 

For a flow of 200 to 400 gallons per minute. 

The loss for first 200 gallons is 4 Ibs. and for each 10 
gallons over, up to 400 add .5 of a Ib. 

Example: 

What would be the loss in 400 ft. of 3" hose discharg- 
ing 310 gallons per minute? 

For first 200 gallons the loss would be 4 Ibs. and for the 
no over (which is 11X10), should be added iiX-5> or 
5.5 Ibs. to the 4 Ibs., which would be 9.5 Ibs. for each 100 
ft, and for 400 ft. would be 4X9.5, or 38 Ibs. loss. 

For a flow of 400 to 700 gallons per minute. 

The loss for first 400 gallons is 14 Ibs. and for each 10 
gallons over, up to 700, add .8 of a Ib. (figured as above). 

Loss in 2^/2" hose. 

For a flow of 200 to 400 gallons per minute. 

The loss for first 200 gallons is 10 Ibs. and for each 10 
gallons over, up to 400, add 1.3 Ibs. 

Example: 

What would be the loss in 300 ft. of 2^/2" hose dis- 
charging 350 gallons per minute. 

The loss for first 200 gallons is 10 Ibs. and for the 150 
gallons (which is 15X10), should be added 15X1.3 or 
20 Ibs., to the 10 which would be 30 Ibs. for each 100 ft., 
and for 300 ft. the loss would be 3X30 or 90 Ibs. 

7. For effective .reaching distance of fire streams either 
vertical or horizontal. 

To do efficient service allow i Ib. in pressure for each 
foot in distance. 

8. For finding horsepower of a fire engine. 
Multiply the area of the piston by the steam pressure in 

pounds per square inch ; multiply this product by the travel 



APPENDIX 409 

of the piston in feet per minute, divide this result by 
33,000, and .7 of this quotient will be the horsepower. 

Example: 

What would be the horsepower of a fire engine with 
cylinders of 8"' diameter, 80 Ibs. steam pressure, with a 
stroke of 6" and traveling 200 revolutions per minute? 

8X8 equals 64. 

64 X .7854 equals 50.2656 area of piston. 

50.2656X80 equals 4021.2480. 

6X2 equals 12" or i ft. travel of piston for I revolution. 

1X200 equals 200 ft. travel of piston per minute. 

4,021X200 equals 804,200. 

804,200 divided by 33,000 equals 24.37. 

24.37X7 equals 17.059 horsepower. 

9. For obtaining pump capacity. 

Square the diameter of pump cylinder. 

Multiply above product by travel of piston in inches per 
revolution. 

Then multiply this result by constant .0034. 

This will give the displacement of the pump in gallons 
per revolution, less the displacement of the plunger rod, 
which must be deducted to get the net displacement. 

To get the displacement of plunger rod. 

Square the diameter, then multiply by the travel of the 
piston for y 2 revolution, then multiply this by the con- 
stant .0034. 

Example: 

What is the capacity of a pump having a 6" cylinder, 
stroke 9", plunger rod ij<", traveling 300 revolutions per 
minute ? 

6X6 equals 36. 

9X2 equals 18 inches travel for I revolution. 

36X18 equals 648 cubic inches. 

648 X -0034 equals 2.2032 gallons capacity per revolution, 
less the displacement of the plunger rod. 

1.5X1-5 equals 2.25. 

2.25X9 equals 20.25. 



4 io FIRES AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 

20.25 X .0034 equals .06885, displacement in gallons of 
plunger rod. 

2.2032 less .06885 equals 2.13435 gallons, net displace- 
ment per revolution. 

2.13435X300 equals 640 gallons, capacity of pump. 



RETURN 
TO ^ 


LOAN PERIOD 1 


2 


3 


4 


5 


6 



ALL BOOKS MAY BE RECALLED AFTER 7 DAYS 



DUE AS STAMPED BELOW 



DUE NRLF 


MAR 2 6 1985 




f.'.AY 151983 








fiOG 2 2002 










' X 






* /i Ai i . , -\ r*. n r~ 






i/HW U B KgJJj 






f FP ^4^ 






I ^ 7 u 






REIVES 



















UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY 
FORM NO. DDO, 5m, 12/80 BERKELEY, CA 94720 



GENERAL LIBRARY - U.C. BERKELEY 



2923